In the aftermath of his state’s recent political turmoil, Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri has asked his Rivers State counterpart, Siminalayi Fubara, to practice patience and tolerance.
He also asked Fubara to stay focused and work for peace so that his vision of developing the state might become a reality.
Diri delivered the advice on Wednesday, when Fubara and a high-powered team paid him a visit at his rural house in Sampou, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.
Fubara made his first official visit to Bayelsa State since taking office on May 29, 2023. Seriake Dickson, Diri’s predecessor and senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, were among the distinguished persons present during the Rivers governor’s visit.
According to a statement made by Diri’s Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, on Thursday, the importance of peace cannot be overstated, as no development can occur in the presence of a crisis.
Diri stated that Rivers and Bayelsa have a long-standing brotherly bond and that whatever affects one affects the other, adding that he was concerned about the Rivers political problem and had worked behind the scenes to guarantee the state’s calm was restored.
Chronicle NG reports that Rivers State has been embroiled in a political crisis following a move by 27 lawmakers loyal to ex-governor Nyesom Wike to impeach Fubara.
Wike, who is now the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, accused Fubara of betraying him and destroying the political edifice that he had left behind.
But, speaking on Wednesday, Diri warned against imbuing the Rivers conflict with ethnic overtones, claiming that the Ikwerre of Rivers and the Ijaw of both Rivers and Bayelsa were one and couldn’t afford to fight each other since it would be a needless battle amongst brothers.
Diri also advised Fubara to be tolerant and patient in order to bring growth to his state’s people.
The governor said, “Rivers and Bayelsa are one and the same. That is why, during the political crisis, we worked behind the scenes to ensure peace reigned in your state. What affects Rivers affects Bayelsa.
“My thinking is that there has to be peace in Rivers State. God should grant you the wisdom to govern. At this time, you must be patient and tolerant. You should also communicate with God, and He will guide you.
“Some people wanted to give the crisis ethnic coloration, but I said no. We should all look for peace and not escalate it, so that the governor will also focus on delivering development to his people. I again call for peace and understanding so that both states will experience development.
“We have some cases in court, and I am sure you have been briefed. That is why you said we should talk about our issues. I am very prepared to discuss them with your government to resolve them.
“Our politics must be people-oriented. If we serve our people well, we serve God. We also need to meet more closely and explore areas of mutual benefit to both states.”
Fubara stated in his remarks that his visit was intended to create unity and seek areas of partnership between the two states.
He stated that the two states had a lot in common and could not afford to operate at odds, stating that the recent crisis in Rivers was sad and that the issues were being rectified as his administration was focused on growing the state.
While thanking the people of Bayelsa for their support, Fubara stated that he would create a closer relationship with Diri in order for both states to flourish.
He claimed that Rivers was eager to talk and address all legal concerns concerning both states, urging that, as brothers, an amicable solution to the challenges that threatened to split them could be reached.
Fubara said, “There is no difference between Rivers and Bayelsa. The creation of Bayelsa was for development purposes. We are one and the same people.
“My visit is a unification meeting. We are here to tell our brother that we want to work together for a common purpose, which is the development of both states.
“We have a lot of things jointly owned by both states. We need to meet and settle all issues. We cannot develop in a situation of crisis. Peace is the major ingredient for development.
“We appreciate the people of Bayelsa for their solidarity during our trying period. Whatever affects Rivers affects Bayelsa. But equally important is that Nigeria needs peace in the Rivers because of our strategic place.”