QuickRead: Rivers political crisis. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter

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Rivers State was rocked by a political crisis last week following a move by the state House of Assembly to impeach Governor Siminalaye Fubara for alleged gross misconduct.

The discovery of an item listed as a presidential yacht in the 2023 supplementary budget also generated varied reactions across Nigeria the same week.

These and three other stories we tracked dominated public discourse during the period.

1. Rivers political crisis

On November 1, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, on Wednesday warned against any attempt to tamper with the political structure in Rivers State.

Wike, who gave the warning at a closed-door meeting with members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum led by its Chairman, Governor Bala Mohammed in Abuja, said:
“Nobody can take away the political structure in Rivers; nobody can intimidate me. If I want to do something, I will do it.

“The impeachment is not a military coup, it is provided under the constitution. Also, I am not interested in all the rumours, money, this, and that. Rubbish. Absolute rubbish.
“I just left the office, how many months ago? And I am the FCT minister, so which money? But nobody can take away our political structure. No one.”

Why it matters

The ugly incident of the last week in Rivers is another shameless descent into lawlessness by selfish politicians determined to foist a reign of terror in the oil-rich state in their craving for power and control of state resources.

In a state that has gained notoriety for violence in recent years, the question most people have continued to ask is what lessons are these elites who have lost the verve to do anything worthwhile are passing to Nigerians, particularly the youth, who look up to them as role models.

2. Controversy trails discovery of ‘presidential yacht’ in supplementary budget

The discovery of N5 billion set aside for the procurement of a presidential yacht in the 2023 supplementary budget stirred controversy in the country last week with many questioning the need for such a luxury ship at this critical time.

However, in a statement issued on November 2, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Tope Ajayi, dismissed reports that his principal requested a presidential yacht.

He wrote: “It has become a pattern for some individuals, CSOs, and a section of the media to pick one or two line items every budget cycle for sensational headlines, deliberately ignoring context in their reporting.
“The public that should benefit from good journalism, which should primarily educate and adequately inform, is left confused and miseducated due to mischaracterisation of issues and misrepresentation of facts.”

Why it matters

The uproar generated by the report on the planned appropriation of N5 billion for the purchase of a presidential yacht and other sundry expenses speaks to the anger in the land over the government’s policies which have driven up the cost of living and the widespread poverty in the country.

In times like this, serious countries across the world borrow money to expand their economies and not procure luxury items to satisfy the craving of those in power.

The onus is, therefore, on the current administration to set aside its personal interests for the sake of Nigerians who are at the receiving end of some of the policies that have dragged the economy to its knees and made the country the world’s poverty capital.

3. Obi on decomposing, headless bodies in Abia

The Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, on November 2 expressed concern at the reports on decomposing and headless bodies discovered in Abia State.

Obi, who reacted to the reports on his verified X account, formerly Twitter, described the discovery of over 20 headless bodies and countless human skeletons near the Lokpanta cattle market along the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway as “barbaric and cruel.”

READ ALSO:QuickRead: Supreme Court validation of Tinubu’s election. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter

He wrote: “I read the bone-chilling story coming out of Abia State, where over 80 bodies were reportedly recovered around the cattle market, with about 20 headless decomposing bodies.
“This level of barbarism and extremely cruel acts only reflects how insecure our environment has been for years now.”

Why it matters

The Abia State’s discovery illustrates the sorry state of insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in the South-East, where criminals hiding under the secessionist agitation are taking innocent lives on a regular basis.

The release of the incarcerated leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been identified as one of the remedies to the problems in the South-East.

Therefore, the onus is on the president to restore calm in the troubled region by quickly resolving the impasse surrounding the activist and exploring a political solution to his group’s agitation in the interest of all.

4. Ondo Assembly alleges deputy governor frustrating peace moves

The Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Olamide Oladiji, on November 5 accused the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, of frustrating peace moves initiated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leadership.

Oladiji, who spoke with journalists in Akure, lamented that the deputy governor has refused to withdraw cases he filed against the Assembly in courts.

The speaker said: “We met the National Chairman, and he specifically asked me ‘how do we commence reconciliation?’ I told him that the reconciliation process has to start with the Deputy Governor. He is the one who took us to court, we cannot be reconciling ourselves when we have cases in court.
“Let him go to the court, withdraw all these cases, then we would know that we are now in for genuine reconciliation. But the deputy governor has not done so. He has appealed some of the rulings of the lower court.”

Why it matters

The battle between the key figures in Ondo politics could cause a huge setback to All Progressives Congress’s (APC) chances of retaining power beyond 2024 with opposition forces in the state waiting to capitalize on the current bad blood between Governor Akeredolu and his deputy to wreck the ambition.

The governor’s incapacitation which has also affected governance in the state for most part of this year may also swing the tide in favour of the opposition when the people of Ondo State go to the poll next November.

5. Ex-NNPP chairman joins APC

The former National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Prof. Rufa’i Alkali, and other chieftains of the party switched to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on October 31.

Alkali, who spoke after they were officially received at the APC national secretariat in Abuja by the party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, described the ruling party as a very accommodating platform for any serious politician.

He said: “Mr. Chairman sir, before you today are some of the leading members of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, indeed the cream of the party who recently resigned from the party.
“As Your Excellency may be aware, most of us seated here participated actively in building and strengthening the NNPP political base as a formidable political movement that enabled the party to field candidates in virtually every electable position throughout the 36 States of the federation and Abuja.”

Why it matters

The exit of the NNPP founding national chairman is not surprising considering the propensity for politicians to chase after personal interests. Many argue though that the internal crisis that engulfed the party soon after the polls may have also triggered an exodus.

The crisis and the gale of defection that followed is a common feature in the country’s political space where people of varying ideologies (strange bird fellows) come together just for an election.

By Hamed Shobiye

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