Consequences of Rivers state crisis on PDP and Wike

RIVERS STATE APC AND PDP CRISIS - Wike and Governor Fubaru
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Rivers State political crisis between PDP and Camp Wike has been heightened recently as 27 out of 32 members of the State House of Assembly defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC). This defection has led to a clash between the state Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, and lawmakers loyal to former Governor Nyesom Wike. It is good to examine the reasons behind the defection, the legal implications, and the possible consequences for the state and its residents.

The Defection and Reasons Behind It

The lawmakers made their defection official in a group photograph where they were seen holding the APC flag. The primary reason cited for their defection was division within the PDP. According to letters written to the Speaker of the House, Martin Amaewhule, the lawmakers expressed their concerns about the tussle for the position of the National Secretary of the PDP, which had created communication challenges and hindered party unity.

Legal Implications of the Defection

The defection of the lawmakers has significant legal implications. According to Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), a member of a House of Assembly shall vacate their seat if they become a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected. This provision, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, means that the 27 defected members have automatically vacated their seats, losing their rights, privileges, recognition, and obligations as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

PDP’s Demand for Fresh Elections

In response to the defection, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) immediately commence the process of conducting fresh elections to fill the vacant seats in the 27 State Constituencies. The PDP argues that the defection of the lawmakers has created a vacancy by virtue of the constitutional provision mentioned earlier. They emphasize that the former lawmakers should not parade themselves as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, as it would amount to impersonation with serious criminal consequences.

The Governor’s Response and the State Executive Council Meeting

Governor Siminalayi Fubara has remained silent on the defection of the lawmakers. During a state executive council meeting, where the N800 billion budget estimate for 2024 was approved, the Governor did not address the defection or the ongoing political crisis. The council meeting focused on discussing the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the budget estimate, which was christened “Budget of Renewed Hope, Consolidation, and Continuity.”

Reactions from the All Progressives Congress (APC)

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has hailed the defection of the 27 lawmakers, considering it a welcome development. The APC’s National Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, attributes the defection to the open-door policy of the APC’s National Chairman, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, and the political revolution taking place in Rivers State. The APC sees the defection as an opportunity to widen its scope and consolidate its presence in the state.

Civil Society Groups’ Call for Neutrality

Amidst the political crisis, a coalition of Rivers Civil Society Groups has called on the state Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, to remain neutral and obey court orders to maintain the status quo. They express concern over the security agencies’ alleged support for the faction of the state lawmakers loyal to Governor Nyesom Wike. The groups advocate for peace in Rivers State and urge President Bola Tinubu to intervene and prevent further escalation of the crisis.

Possible Consequences and Conclusion

The political crisis in Rivers State has the potential to have far-reaching consequences. The demand for fresh elections, the legal implications of the defection, and the ongoing power struggle between Governor Fubara and lawmakers loyal to former Governor Wike all contribute to the uncertainty and instability in the state. It remains to be seen how INEC, the state government, and other stakeholders will navigate this crisis and restore stability to Rivers State.

In conclusion, the defection of 27 PDP lawmakers to the APC in Rivers State has sparked a political crisis, leading to a clash between the state Governor and lawmakers loyal to a former Governor. The legal implications of the defection and the demand for fresh elections have further intensified the situation. It is crucial for all parties involved to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in order to ensure the stability and progress of Rivers State.

By Obinna Ejianya (9News Nigeria)

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