Hundreds of Rivers State residents gathered in Port Harcourt on Friday to show their support for Governor Siminalayi Fubara amid the state’s political crisis.
The groups opposed and rejected the presidential resolution on the squabble in the state between Governor Fubara and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.
As early as 7 a.m., placard-carrying protesters invaded the Government House on Azikiwe Street in Port Harcourt, erecting a stage and canopies at the entrance to the state seat of power and chorusing solidarity songs and dancing.
The groups included the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Greater Wakirike Movement, National Union of Rivers State Students, Worldwide; the National Association of Nigeria Students, South-South Zone B; the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone; the Rivers Youth Federation; the Ijaw Young Professionals Association; the Past NURSS Leaders Forum; and the Andoni Youth Federation.
Others were the Ogoni Youth Federation, Niger Delta Activist Forum, United Community Development Committee, Christian Association of Nigeria, Rivers State Chapter; Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria Rivers State Chapter; Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, the Muslim Community in Rivers State, Elder Statesmen, Women Groups, Concerned Lawyers, Concerned Doctors, Concerned Engineers, and the Keke Drivers Union.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read, “Rivers State cannot be an individual’s estate,” “Seats of defected lawmakers remain vacant,” “Niger Delta youths should not be taken for granted,” and “Femi Gbajabiamila should hand off Rivers affairs,” among others.
A lawyer, David Uduru, addressed journalists in front of the Government House on behalf of the protesters, calling on the people of Rivers State and the entire Niger Delta region to prepare to occupy the state in a series of non-violent protests to vehemently reject and oppose the purported resolutions reached at the meeting between President Bola Tinubu, Governor Fubara, Wike, and others on Monday, December 18, 2023, at the Aso Rock Villa.
He said, “Therefore, we urge all indigenes and residents in Rivers State to be ready for long-drawn, non-violent protest rallies in the state beginning on January 1, 2024. May we announce to Governor Siminialayi Fubara that Rivers State people massively voted him into office and therefore cannot allow him to bring the people into disrepute by signing such an infamous agreement? That is akin to selling our collective hegemony to one individual, Nyesome Wike, who enjoys the support of the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the President himself, Bola Tinubu.
“We herein inform the executive governor not to attempt, under any guise of persuasive truce, adherence to any part of that unconstitutional agreement, as that is tantamount to compromising the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“To think that the meeting was convened at the instance of Mr. President Bola Tinubu but does not have the signature of Mr. President casts doubt as to the authenticity of the said resolutions.
“It is worthy of mention that the following persons did not also append their signatures: the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Chief of Staff to Mr. President, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Chief Justice of the Federation.”
“In fact, the fact that no spokesperson for Mr. President addressed the press on the purported resolutions leaves Nigerians with more questions than answers.
“Sadly, since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has chosen to forget that Rivers State is one of the critical economic hubs in Nigeria and chosen Nyesome Wike over the peace and development of Rivers State, we, the people of Rivers State, have chosen ourselves and will therefore take the destiny of our state in our hands.
“We refuse to be cowed just to satisfy one man. The date to occupy Rivers State begins January 1 to January 30, 2024, at the first instance.”
The groups also revealed that the state would stay occupied until “Mr. President sees reasons with Nigerians and Rivers people and sacks the FCT Minister, Nyesome Wike,” as “Rivers State is not and cannot be Nyesome Wike’s estate.”.
Also speaking, the state chairman of the NYCN, Chijioke Ihunwo, said, “We call on the governor not to return any commissioner. (If there is any attempt to return any commissioner who resigned from his cabinet, we shall occupy the Government House.”
Chronicle NG reports that six Rivers State elders have sued President Bola Tinubu before the Federal High Court in Abuja for allegedly compelling Governor Siminilaya Fubara to enter into an unconstitutional pact.
They argue that the December 18 agreement was not only unlawful but also a usurpation, nullification, and undermining of the existing or binding pertinent parts of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
As a result, they prayed the court to rule on whether Tinubu, Fubara, and the State Assembly have the right to enter into any agreement that has the effect of nullifying or undermining the constitutional or legal potency of Sections 109(I)(g) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.