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Rivers APC chair: Fubara hasn’t represented 2024 budget… he can’t do as he pleases

Rivers APC chair: Fubara hasn’t represented 2024 budget… he can’t do as he pleases
February 25
21:49 2024

Tony Okocha, chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers state, has accused Siminalayi Fubara, the governor, of delaying the implementation of the resolutions reached to end the political crisis in the state. 

In October 2023, Rivers was enveloped in political tension when the state house of assembly commenced impeachment proceedings against Fubara.

However, Fubara’s loyalists kicked against the impeachment moves.

Thereafter, 27 lawmakers defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

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Subsequently, Edison Ehie, the then factional speaker of the Rivers assembly, declared the seats of the lawmakers who defected vacant.

On December 14, 2023, Fubara signed the state’s 2024 N800 billion budget estimate into law — a day after he presented the budget to a five-member faction of the house of assembly.

On December 18, 2023, Fubara and Wike agreed to end the feud between them following President Bola Tinubu’s intervention.

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An eight-point resolution was signed by Fubara, Wike, and other Rivers stakeholders at a meeting held with the president to settle the rift.

Speaking during an interview with NAN on Sunday, Okocha said the delay in implementing the agreement was not good for political peace in Rivers.

Okocha also said the continued delay was a disrespect to the president and other political actors.

“When the matter reached a crescendo and was almost turning into an emergency, several calls were put across to President Tinubu to wade in,” Okocha said.

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“The president subsequently invited all the stakeholders from both sides and we had a very decent meeting devoid of intimidation, harassment, duress or undue advantage given to anyone.

“Following the discussions, the president presented an eight-point proclamation document and handed it over to former Rivers governor Peter Odili.

“At every point Odili read each point from the document, Tinubu interjected and asked if we were okay, and everybody echoed ‘yes’.

“After all parties agreed to the resolution, governor Fubara, his deputy, Wike, myself, PDP chairman in Rivers, national security adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, and Martins Amaewhule, the speaker of the house of assembly, all signed the document.”

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The APC chairman said after signing the document, Fubara requested protection for his supporters against victimisation, which the president assured.

“The governor has implemented six resolutions, including withdrawing all cases before the courts, freeing the legislature, paying allowances due to lawmakers, and recognising Amaewhule as speaker,” he said.

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“But, he has refused to implement two crucial agreements – the re-presentation of the state budget before the 27 lawmakers and the conduct of local government elections.”

Okocha noted that the president informed Fubara that no other titles outside those recognised by the constitution would be used for the leadership of local governments.

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“Specifically, the president kicked against caretaker committees or sole administrators for the local government councils,” he added.

“So, governor Fubara cannot, in his wildest imagination, continue to do as he pleases. He cannot continue to run the state without a budget.”

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Okocha said the tenure of the local government chairmen would end on June 10, and that INEC is required to conduct the election 60 days before the incumbents’ tenure expires.

The chairman threatened legal action to ensure compliance, emphasising the need for peaceful governance and adherence to the law.

“So, we will not stand aside and watch him violate the legal and constitutional agreement; we will not allow Fubara to disrespect the office of the president,” Okocha said.

“Drafting a chairman or a sole administrator to oversee a local government is an aberration; only elected executives are recognised by law.

“Although, no time frame was given for implementing the resolution, the governor cannot run the state without a budget.”

‘FUBARA IS TAKING THE RESOLUTIONS STEP BY STEP’

Reacting to Okocha’s comments, Joe Johnson, Rivers’ commissioner of information and communication, said Fubara has implemented over 80 percent of the agreement.

“The governor has recalled, and redeployed the commissioners who resigned, back to their positions – that is even more important,” he said.

“Governor Fubara has also paid all the allowances owed to the 27 assembly members.

“If the governor refused to release funds to the lawmakers but went ahead to represent a budget to them, which one, in Okocha’s priority, will be better?

“The governor is acting on the resolutions step-by-step. Okocha should stop chasing shadows.”

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