In an interview on ARISE News on Thursday, Magnus Abe, the former Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate for Rivers State, addressed the ongoing political tension in the state. Amidst the escalating feud between prominent figures in Rivers State politics, Abe emphasised the urgent need for a peaceful resolution, highlighting the detrimental consequences of political conflicts on the state and its people.
Abe, who clarified his neutral stance, stated, “First, let me make it abundantly clear I am not in any camp. The minister is my friend, although we are a bit estranged at the moment. The governor is not my friend; he has not been my friend. I really don’t know him that well. But my position as part of Rivers State is that our interest at this point shouldn’t only be on the politics and the politicians but on the interest of Rivers State.”
Abe expressed his concern about the recurrence of political crises in the state, citing a similar situation in the past where Rivers State suffered significant losses due to internal conflicts. “This is no different from what happened last time between the then governor and the minister. We had practically the same situation, and Rivers State lost out terribly because the centre was working against the state. So, if we’re not careful, it will play out the same way,” he warned.
He further emphasised the need for the focus to shift from political power struggles to addressing the crucial issues affecting the people of Rivers State. “In Rivers State today, we are not conscious of the figures in what we discuss. How many Rivers people have access to good drinking water? How many of our youths have jobs? How many people have access to electricity? What is the quality of public education? We need to be talking about all these figures, but instead, all the focus, all the money, will now go to politics, and at the end of the day, it is the Rivers people that are going to suffer,” Abe lamented.
Abe appealed to all parties involved, urging them to find accommodation and avoid prioritising loyalty over honesty, integrity, competence, and capacity. “I would like to appeal to all the parties, and I’m saying this in utmost good faith, to find accommodation. Nobody is too big, and nobody is too small. This whole idea of someone being so much more powerful than the other and therefore his position must be absolute in terms of whatever agreements and negotiations are necessary to ensure peace is what always brings these problems,” he advised.
He concluded with a poignant observation about Nigerian politics, stating, “In Nigerian politics, our tendency is to award loyalty above anything else. When we discountenance honesty, integrity, competence, and capacity and focus only on loyalty, we end up in a situation where everyone around the big man is loyal and over time, they get isolated from the reality of what is actually happening to the common people. Instead of having a government of the people, you end up with a people of the government.”
Magnus Abe’s words resonate with the citizens of Rivers State, urging a collective call for peace and stability in the region, emphasising the need to prioritise the welfare of the people above all else.