COVID-19: Wike, FG should embrace dialogue ― Magnus Abe

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has been urged to stop being confrontational and embrace dialogue as a means to resolving the escalating issues between his administration and the Federal Government in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus epidemic in the state.

Senator Magnus Abe, who formerly represented Rivers South-East in the National Assembly, gave the advice in a statement he personally made available to Online Tribune on Sunday.

The governor had engaged the government at the centre in an unending spat, climaxing last week when he accused it of deliberately seeking to cause a widespread of COVID-19 and thus endanger the lives of the people of the state.

However, Senator Abe, in the statement, appealed that Wike, in the light of the spiralling controversies, should immediately seek and secure ‘back-channel lines of communication’ and, through dialogue, resolve any outstanding issues with the Federal Government.

He also admonished the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to open its door for dialogue with the Rivers State government for the peace of the state and in the interest of the people.

The former federal lawmaker restated his position and determination not to be a party to any action that would politicise all efforts aimed at confronting and containing the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

“Wisdom is not a weakness. It is one thing to have a political dispute with an individual whose attitude and conduct a lot of people may not approve of, but it is a different matter for a sub-national entity like Rivers State to challenge the sovereignty of Nigeria at this time when we should all be working together to combat an unseen but deadly enemy.

“The confrontational approach of the Rivers State government will open the flood gates for conflict entrepreneurs who will use the opportunity of the conflict to further their political and economic nest and to the detriment of the state.

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“This conflict will not in any way help the majority of Rivers people in the fight against the coronavirus. This is not the time to settle issues of supremacy between elected and unelected functionaries of government.

“The constitution gives power to both the elected and unelected officials after all the Supreme Court of Nigeria which has the ultimate power to decide issues in the country is made up of unelected officials.

“In the fight against the coronavirus, what we need is unity and cooperation between all tiers and arms of government. Even sovereign nations cannot win this war alone. We must all work together. To act otherwise at this time will have grave consequences for our dear state.

“I also wish to appeal to the Federal Government, on behalf of the people of Rivers State, to keep open the opportunity of dialogue and cooperation with all states, particularly Rivers, because of its population and strategic importance to our economy. Nigeria cannot afford to be distracted by politics at this time.

“Finally, the greatest danger facing the states at this time is not the risk from approved international travellers who can be easily tracked and monitored. It is the risk of community spread and interstate commuters most of whom are neither documented nor can they be tracked.

“The solution to this danger is for states to establish accredited test centres and take steps to document inter-state travellers for tracking purposes,” the statement read.

Senator Abe also condoled with President Buhari over the death of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, noting: “His unfortunate demise should act as a clear reminder that we cannot afford to fiddle while Rome burns.

“Let us put aside all differences and work together to defeat this pandemic. Once our country is safe from danger, we can all safely go back to politics.”

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