Politics News

Rivers Govt calls the bluff of five pro-Wike commissioners’ resignation

The Rivers State Government, on Wednesday, debunked the claim that commissioners working with Governor Siminalayi Fubara are operating in a toxic environment.
The claim of toxicity was made by five commissioners loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, who announced their resignation from Fubara’s cabinet on Wednesday.
The commissioners are Prof. Chinedu Mmom (Education) and Dr Gift Worlu (Housing), Auten Ben-Chioma (Environment), Mrs. Inime Aguma (Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Dr Jacobson Nbina (Transport) and Dr Gift Worlu (Housing).
The resignation of the five brings to nine the number of pro-Wike commissioners who had resigned from Fubara’s cabinet amid the deepening crisis between the two party leaders.
Fubara and Wike’s crisis began in October last year and has seen stakeholders taking sides.
An intervention by President Bola Tinubu failed to resolve the crisis.
In a new twist on Wednesday, five pro-Wike commissioners dumped the government.
Their resignation came 24 hours after Fubara slammed his predecessor and estranged political godfather, Wike, accusing him of leaving a huge debt burden for him.
Earlier on Monday, Fubara had hinted at a plan to probe Wike’s administration.
The pro-Wike commissioners’ resignations were contained in separate letters dated 15th May and addressed to Fubara through the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo.
Mmom’s letter read, “I write to formally tender my resignation as a member of the Rivers State Executive Council as the Honourable Commissioner for Education with effect from today the 15th day of May 2024.
“It is a truism that a calm, safe and friendly environment would stimulate efficient service delivery and enhanced productivity. It is, however, unfortunate to note that my current workspace has become toxic and no longer guarantees a favourable environment to enable me to realise my set targets for the education sector in the state.
“There is a loss of trust, animosity and sharp division among colleagues in the same cabinet, which is unhealthy and very unfortunate. I want to thank Your Excellency for the opportunity to serve in your cabinet and wish your administration well.”
Moments later, Ben-Chioma also forwarded his letter, dated 15th May, citing the political crisis in the state for his decision.
Ben-Chioma wrote: “I hereby tender my resignation as the Honourable Commission for Environment, Rivers State on this day, the 15th May 2024.
“I want to sincerely appreciate Your Excellency for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the State Executive Council. My decision to resign is due to the political crisis befalling our dear Rivers State and other personal reasons.
“It was a privilege to have been of service to you in your administration and wish you all the best in your tenure.”
Similarly, Dr Worlu, in his letter dated 15th May, said, “I write to formally resign my appointment as as Honourable Commissioner for Housing.
“One of the most difficult decisions in my life, yet it is precipitated by the toxic atmosphere that has characterised our working relationship, especially the smoldering arbitrariness of decisions and actions, including the attempt to fuse the executive and the legislative in Rivers State.
“I thank you for the opportunity to serve in your government and I wish you the best as you continue to steer the ship of state.”
In the same vein, the Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Aguma, and her counterpart in the transport ministry, Dr Jacobson Nbina, followed afterwards to tender their resignations.
While Aguma cited unconducive working environment as a reason for her resignation, Nbina blamed the prolonged unresolved political differences for his action.
Aguma wrote: “Pursuant to the current inconducive working environment, it is imperative to tender my resignation as Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Rivers State.
“I resign with all sense of responsibility, especially as there is no room for progressional development in the workplace. Notwithstanding, the opportunity to serve is appreciated.”
Nbina, in his letter, wrote: “My decision to resign is due to the unresolved political crisis in our dear state leading to lack of trust and apathy. Please accept the assurance of my esteemed regards.”
But in a swift reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, dismissed the claim of toxicity by the exiting commissioners.
According to Johnson, there was nothing unusual in the resignation of cabinet members.
Johnson stated, “It is common. That is the kind of thing you find in a healthy environment. People have the right to be appointed, sacked or they resign. So, it is not anything new. It didn’t start today.
“Those who resigned have made up their minds and you can’t stop them.”
Asked if the resigned commissioners were loyal to the governor, Johnson said he wouldn’t know but said some of the reasons given showed that they were merely shopping for excuses.
He said, “They are just trying to look for the clause to clutch. There was nothing to talk about toxic or no toxic. We all operate in the same atmosphere. The governor allowed us the liberty to operate and we’re enjoying his liberal nature.”
When asked if all nine commissioners will be missed at the State Executive Council Meeting, he answered in the affirmative, saying, “Yes, as humans, why would you not miss your colleagues who used to sit beside you and the person is not there?
“If you say you cannot miss the person then you are not human. As Commissioner for Information, the man who sits next to me is the Commissioner for Housing because it is done in alphabetical order.
“We have gone to the level where we can just let those who want to go, go and have some level of rest. And if they have gone to rest, allow them to rest. This is the time and opportunity they have to do the most honourable thing, which is to say ‘I no longer want to be where I am. Let me go the other way’.
“And where we are now is that I honour those who left, those who are here and those who will still be there till the end of the regime.”
On whether they were moles in the State Executive Council, Johnson said he wouldn’t know.
“I can say that they worked as a family. They never raised anything in the area of objectivity. If they had any reason to resign it may have been something else that came out of another understanding. But as to whether they are moles, I can’t read their minds,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the opposition All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Chief Tony Okocha, said the resignation was long overdue.
Okocha, an ally of the FCT Minister, stated, “The first to say is that the Commissioners who resigned canvassed the reasons for it.
“And putting all of them together one point resonated and it is that they no longer find comfort in a place where they should work, give and do their best.
“That the place has turned into a gymnastic for crisis and illegality. And that working under that environment they are not sure that they will be able to function properly in the manner and in the spirit and in their thought whilst they accepted to be commissioners and were sworn in.
“And so they are grownups and within the arm bit of the law, they have their freedom of opinion, expression and freedom of decision. So anybody who feels otherwise should let us know. The truth of the matter is that these commissioners if I were to be in their shoes I would have said what they did today is long overdue”
He added, “It is another signal to the Governor that Rivers State which used to be the envy of all, “Is in the news for the wrong reasons. He (Fubara) should see some of us who criticize him constructively as not enemies but friends or people who support and who like our dear and darling state.”

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