Rivers: PDP, Clark fault Tinubu’s peace deal, APC slams opposition - LagosTrend

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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Rivers: PDP, Clark fault Tinubu’s peace deal, APC slams opposition


The Peoples Democratic Party and an elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, on Tuesday  faulted President Bola Tinubu’s peace deal between the Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesome Wike.

Tinubu brokered a truce between the FCT minister and his political godson at a meeting in Abuja on Monday night. The meeting was attended by the President, Wike, Fubara, and his deputy, Mrs Ngozi Odu; a former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili; and other stakeholders.

Reacting to PDP’s statement, the All Progressives Congress said the opposition party lacked shame for faulting the peace deal.

At the meeting, Wike and Fubara signed an eight-point agreement to end the political crisis in the state.

The crisis Fubara and his predecessor came to the fore on October 29 when a section of the state House of Assembly was gutted by fire after the lawmakers began moves to impeach the governor.

 Events in the state assumed another dimension on December 11 when 27 out of 32 members of the state House of Assembly defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC. The defectors are Wike’s loyalists.

The Assembly was subsequently factionalised with a group led by a pro-Wike Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, and another by  Edison Ehie, loyal to Fubara.

The House of Assembly complex in the state was pulled down on December 13 by the state government, which insisted that the building was not good for human habitation.

 Tinubu intervened in the crisis on Monday night by brokering a peace deal.

Among others, it was agreed that the governor should withdraw court cases concerning the crisis and that he should represent the 2024 budget to the Amaewhule-led Assembly which was recognised as the Speaker.

It was also agreed that the defectors should return to the Assembly and that the nine commissioners who resigned should be reappointed by the governor.

But on Tuesday, the PDP National Working Committee rejected the intervention of the President and told the defectors that they could only return to the Assembly through fresh elections.

Addressing a press conference after the PDP emergency NWC meeting on Tuesday, the party’s acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, advised

the lawmakers, who defected to APC not to be deceived by anybody giving assurances in Abuja that they could return to the House of Assembly without fresh elections.

Damagum said there was no respite for the defectors, who by virtue of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, vacated their seats because of defection from the PDP.

Quoting Section 109(1)(g), he states, “A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if: being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected:

“Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored; or

“(h) the Speaker of the House of Assembly receives a certificate under the hand of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission stating that the provisions of section 110 of this Constitution have been complied with in respect of the recall of the member.”

The PDP chairman insisted that having vacated their seats, the only option available for the lawmakers, if they wished to return was to seek fresh nomination and re-election on the platform of any political party of their choice.

He said the factional Speaker, Edison, had officially declared the seats of the defectors vacant in line with Section 109 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Our party therefore counsels the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly not to be deceived by anybody giving them the false hope and impracticable assurances in Abuja that they can return to the Rivers State House of Assembly without a fresh election or that the Independent National Electoral Commission can be stopped from conducting fresh election into the 25 Rivers State constituencies where vacancies have occurred because of their defection,” he added.

He said INEC should, in line with Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, fix a date for the conduct of a fresh election into the 25 state constituencies in the state.

APC slams PDP

But APC knocked the opposition PDP, saying it (PDP) had no business calling for a fresh election to replace the defectors.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, the APC National Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, said, “The PDP has no business in the affairs of these 27 members of Rivers House of Assembly. Already, the lawmakers said they are not members of the PDP because they have left the party. And once you leave the party, the organs of the political platform have no business with you. They cannot dictate to them what to do with their own political lives.

“If they have decided to leave the party, it is their choice. It is not for the PDP to now tell them what to do with their own political trajectory. The PDP should bury its head in shame and lick its wounds. This is because people are gradually losing faith in them and no longer see them as the emancipators they claimed to be.”

When asked if the Rivers State governor would not be pressured into pulling out of the truce reached on Monday night, the APC spokesman dismissed the notion, saying the relevant parties involved in the agreement took the decision in the interest of the people.

“This is a meeting that took place between people who are holding the highest responsibilities in their domains. Tinubu as President and Commander-in-Chief of the country has spoken with the interest of the country at heart.

“Fubara has also spoken in his capacity as the Governor and the chief security officer of Rivers State. It would be unfair for anybody to read their intentions negatively. They won’t speak with the intention of deceiving the country or going against the oath of office they took. I am sure they took the decision in the interest of the people who voted them into power,” he stated.

Also, the Presidency has explained that Tinubu’s intervention in the crisis is not political.

It argued that Tinubu did so in his capacity as Nigeria’s leader and “father of the nation”.

“The motive of the President is clearly, in this case, not a political one. He is the father of the nation; he is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,” the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said when he appeared on TVC Monday night.

Ngelale, who argued that the President only wanted to ensure stability in the country, said, “It is the primary responsibility of his to ensure that there is peace and stability and security in all parts of the country.

“If he sees any sign that peace is breaking down in any part of the country, this is a President that will take action.”

He said citizens should expect a hands-on conflict resolution approach in the Tinubu years.

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