Party politics came to the fore when Acting President Yemi Osinbajo visited Rivers state as the All Progressives Congress (APC) refused to or were barred from attending the Town Hall Meeting with the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of the State.
Senator Magnus Abe of the APC, representing Rivers South East Senatorial District, who was not pleased with the development, at a separate meeting of APC stakeholders and sympathizers with the Acting President, said that certain developments on the visit of the acting president indicated that unity and peace are far from being attained in the state.
While Acting President Osinbajo met with a section of Rivers state citizens at the Rivers State Government House in Port Harcourt, he met another section at the Aztec Arcum Event Centre.
Senator Abe said there was a deliberate scheme by the State authorities, which prevented stakeholders who are APC members or sympathizers as well as those who shared dissenting views from the state authorities, in attending the Niger Delta Stakeholders’ Engagement Meeting with the Acting President.
Senator Abe who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), revealed that himself, a serving senator of the state, was not invited by the state government for the forum, adding that he was only invited by the Acting President’s aides at the airport.
He further stated that had there been peace and unity that he (Abe) ought to be at the forum where the interest of the state was discussed.
Senator Abe said that the interest of Rivers people and the Niger Delta region in general supersedes any personal or partisan interest and cautioned those who are playing partisan politics with Rivers interest to stop it forthwith as the state stands to gain if united.
“People talked so much about unity at the forum; how we are all united and how what was happening in Government House is the united position of all Rivers people. But, Mr. President Sir, let me say that unity is not what we say or do when the Acting President of Nigeria is seated and all the television stations are tuned in to what we are doing. Unity is what we do when the acting president is not there; when the cameras are not there.
“As a Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria, I did not receive an invitation to yesterday’s meeting. It was at the airport your own staff tried to give us invitation. That is not an act that will promote unity,” Abe said.
Senator Abe commended the Acting President for giving other stakeholders the opportunity to engage with him, considering their exclusion from the previous forum in Government House.
“I want to thank you for coming here today because if you did not come here, you will not have known that these numbers of Rivers people were shamelessly excluded from what happened yesterday.
In his response, the Acting President thanked the APC and other stakeholders for maintaining peace. He assured them that the federal government was committed to changing the narratives in the Niger Delta region.