by Stanley Azuakola
Consistent with most issues affecting the nation, the crisis in the Rivers assembly took a dangerous ethnic turn today as two groups with different ethnic affiliations/local governments in the state took sides for purely ethnic reasons.
Some serving and past members of the state assembly from the Kalabari ethnic group today said that the crisis was caused by the president, Goodluck Jonathan, and his wife, Patience Jonathan, in order to foment an ethnic crisis.
The house speaker, Dan Amachree, is a Kalabari man representing Asari Toru constituency in the assembly while Nyesom Wike, who is believed to be behind the assembly members opposed to the governor is from Obio-Akpor. Obio-Akpor is the local government which has proved a hard nut to crack for the governor. It was the suspension of the chairman of that local council which set off the chain reaction which led to the governor’s suspension from the PDP.
Serving and former lawmakers of the state assembly from the Kalabari ethnic group, blamed President Jonathan and his wife Patience Jonathan for the crisis, accusing them of attempting to foment an ethnic crisis in the state.
The member representing Asari Toru II in the assembly, Hon. Godstime said, “What President Jonathan and his wife are doing is known to us. We believe he wants to cause ethnic crisis. If they want it in an ethnic way, we’ll also give it to them in an ethnic way.”
Former state assembly members, Samson David and Ibiye Dokubo also corroborated Godstime’s assertions and added that “we will no longer fold our arms and watch anyone attempt to impeach our speaker… something that has been zoned to our area”
But a group, Grassroot Development Initiative of Obio-Akpor threw its weight behind the head of the group of 5, Evans Bipi and the minister of state for education, Nyesom Wike. They called on Rivers people to support the duo.
Meanwhile the leader of the Group of 5, Evans Bipi today expressed displeasure over the fact that he was barred from entering into the assembly by policemen. He told journalists that “I was barred from entering the complex to resume normal duty as speaker. They stopped me from entering. I am so embarrassed. You see my loyalists and supporters on the path of truth here waiting to see me resume but I was barred.”
Earlier in the day, the lawmakers loyal to the speaker, Dan Amachree and the state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, paid a courtesy visit to the governor at the Government House, where they pledged their loyalty. At the breakfast meeting, the lawmakers urged Gov. Amaechi not to be distracted and promised to join hands with him in moving the state forward.
The House speaker, Dan Amachree said, “We have come to reaffirm our total loyalty to you as House.” Most of the members who spoke emphasised that the governor was loved by the people but hated by the “old cabal” who are upset that he has “stopped sharing the root of the state.”
Three out of the 23 pro Amaechi lawmakers were however absent. Two of them, including Chidi Lloyd, the mace-wielding fighting house leader, were said to be receiving treatment; while another lawmaker was away on official duty.
The governor thanked the lawmakers for the visit. He criticised the police commissioner, Mbu Joseph, again, saying it was unfortunate that the state was under siege because of politics. He expressed worry that the “police could not come to the aide of the Rivers people” and wondered what would have happened if he did not come with his own security during Tuesday’s sitting.