Governor Nyesom Wike’s olive branch extended to the opposition political parties in the State, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC), to join hands with his administration and build a peaceful and united Rivers State appears to be a fluke given the recent verbal altercation between the two political gladiators. Shortly after receiving his certificate of return from INEC Governor Wike appealed to his political opponents to sheathe their sword and join hands with his administration to build a peaceful and a united Rivers State. A week thereafter Wike took advantage of the congratulatory visit of the Governing Council of the State University to repeat the same appeal to the opposition. While calling on all politicians in the state to take advantage of his post-election olive branch for the development of the State, Wike said that the state needs peace and security for rapid growth. “The state is uppermost on our mind. I will do everything possible to promote the peace of the state. We thank God that all the political tension is behind us. You cannot govern a state when it is not peaceful”, Wike was quoted as saying during the visit. Interestingly, shortly after Wike’s olive branch the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi said that he is ready to work for the peace of the state. The former Governor stated in his Easter massage to the people of the State that: “Myself and other political leaders must ask God and the people of the state for forgiveness for things left undone and for the pain and anguish the people have brazenly suffered.” He urged Rivers people and other Nigerians to have hope and a renewed commitment to wait till the resurrection morning. “No doubt, our state has endured a tortuous political season, which saw political parties jostle and cajole Rivers people to make choices. Our state, which was known and respected as the Treasure Base of the Nation, is now almost always in the news for the wrong reasons. This is not the Rivers State of our dreams,” Amaechi stated in the massage. Amaechi’s Easter massage was followed with a press conference addressed by the APC in the state in which the party assured Governor Wike that it was ready to accept his olive branch and work for the peace of the state. Senator Andrew Uchendu who spoke on behalf of the party expressed worry that two weeks after the Governor’s olive branch was extended to the opposition political parties, APC in the State waited with bated breath in the hope that the party would see deliberate actions arising from Wike’s statement which he said was geared towards rebuilding the state and restoring the dignity of every Rivers person. Senator Uchendu who represents Rivers east in the Senate said although the party was yet to see indications of any intent in the Governor’s statement, “we are still resolved not to give up.” The Senator pointed out that life in Rivers State has become brutish and worthless with kidnapping and killings occurring daily. He assured the Governor that the “All Progressives Congress has never and will never shy away from doing all it can to ensure a more secured, purposeful and prosperous Rivers State.” But the prospect of reconciliation has been tampered with the recent accusation and counter accusation by Amaechi and Wike over killings in Rivers State. In an interview with a television station in Abuja recently, Amaechi accused Wike of being responsible for all the killings in the state even though he claimed there is no war between him and the Governor. According to him, the issues he had with Wike were due to the spate of insecurity in the state over the past four years. “What is going on between Wike and me is the fact that he wants to run a second term. The fact is that he ran the first term in which people were killed. “Today, he is accusing the army and not the police because they refused to take bribe from him,” Amaechi reportedly said. In a swift reaction, however, Wike declared that Rivers people overwhelmingly voted for him during the 2019 governorship election as a result of his outstanding performance and projects. He said the former governor failed in his quest to truncate his second term because Rivers people were happy with his work. He said: “It is unfortunate. I extended the olive branch and I meant every word of it. If I did not do well in my first term, PDP wouldn’t have given me the party’s flag to fly. In 2015, the same man vowed that over his dead body would I emerge victorious. “I have done well for my people. It is for the people of Rivers State to decide. It is not in the place of Amaechi to decide. In the past, he said an Ikwerre man cannot succeed another Ikwerre man. Today, he is saying his grouse is that I cannot go for a second term. At every step, he has one story or the other.” Watchers of unfolding events in the state believe that the war of words between governor Wike and Amaechi is a product of mistrust and ego between the two politicians. Dike Okwuna, an analyst, said that true reconciliation may be difficult to achieve between the two political bigwigs given the fact that the duo is holding one political grouse against each other. “I actually see the olive branch extended to the opposition parties in the state by Governor Wike as a difficult task to achieve. When you say that an olive branch has been extended to your opponents it should be total. But if you look at what is on ground now you will find out that both politicians are maintaining a cat and mouse relationship,” he stated. There are various panels set up to probe various incidents in the State such as Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigative the vandalism of court premises, the investigative panel to look into the violence that marred the 2019 general elections in the State as well as the recent House of Representative Joint Committee on Army, Human Rights and Justice that visited the State to investigate the circumstances that lead to the death of Dr. Ferry Gberebe, the PDP returning officer in Kana during the March 9 Governorship election. There is also the State Judicial Commission of Inquiry investigating the violence, killings and other related acts and matters that occurred during the February 23 and March 9, 2019, general elections in the state. Although the Chairman of the six- member commission, Justice Monima Danagogo, said that the panel is not out to witchhunt anybody, group or institution but Amaechi followers in the state see the panel as the Wike’s witch-hunt weapon against them. Political pundits are of the opinion that the recent altercation between Amaechi and Wike is an offshoot of the various probe panels set to look into the events of 2019 elections where the APC in the state was at the receiving end of violence that marred the elections.
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