Friday, July 19, 2024

“Former LGA Chairmen, Youths Protest at Secretariats Amid Rivers’ Ongoing Crisis”

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Continued unrest has engulfed Rivers State, spurred by the defiant actions of former chairmen from the local governments. Out of 23 councils, 21 former chairmen have taken to the streets in protest, adamantly resisting efforts to oust them from their offices. They wielded placards bearing bold messages such as “Police, continue occupying the councils” and “Sim Fubara can’t continue to act as he likes,” underscoring their determination to defy the recent administrative changes.

The conflict escalated sharply when the Police Command initiated a stringent blockade, preventing several chairmen from entering their respective secretariats. This move came in response to a controversial directive aiming to assert control over all 23 local government council offices, intensifying tensions in an already volatile situation.

In Buguma, the nerve center of Asari-Toru LGA, Onengiyeofori George, former chairman, led a procession through the town streets, accompanied by ardent supporters chanting slogans in solidarity with Minister Nyesom Wike. Meanwhile, in Abonnema, the capital of Akuku-Toru LGA, another group of demonstrators gathered to voice staunch support for the prolonged closure of council premises by the police.

The former council leaders are reportedly aligned with ex-governor Nyesom Wike, injecting a potent political dimension into the unfolding crisis.

Governor Siminalayi Fubara recently mandated Heads of Local Government Administration (HLGAs) to assume interim leadership roles, citing the expiration of elected chairmen’s three-year tenures. However, these directives were met with staunch resistance as the former chairmen refused to cede power, leading to clashes between rival factions loyal to opposing political figures.

Tensions escalated further following a judicial ruling that invalidated a tenure extension approved by a 27-member Assembly aligned with Wike, instead recognizing a rival three-member House of Assembly also loyal to the former governor.

This turmoil underscores entrenched political divisions within Rivers State, extending well beyond mere administrative reshuffles. The standoff between the former chairmen and the state-backed HLGAs reflects a broader struggle for political dominance and control over local governance structures.

Moreover, the mobilization of supporters in Buguma and Abonnema underscores the influential grassroots support bases at stake, each rallying behind their respective leaders amidst accusations of undue influence and constitutional breaches.

Concerns loom large that unless swiftly resolved, the conflict could escalate existing tensions and potentially destabilize the region further. The involvement of law enforcement agencies, tasked with maintaining order but accused of partisan interference, complicates efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution.

Amidst ongoing protests and heightened tensions, stakeholders within Rivers State and at the federal level are urged to prioritize dialogue and mediation. The multifaceted implications of this crisis, from questions of governance legitimacy to electoral integrity, demand a nuanced approach that upholds legal frameworks and democratic principles.

In summary, the unfolding events in Rivers State serve as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of local governance structures within Nigeria’s intricate political landscape. The actions and reactions of key political players will undoubtedly influence the course of this crisis, potentially impacting the region and beyond for the foreseeable future.

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