There is fresh tension in the oil-rich Niger-Delta region following heightened fears and apprehension among governors of the region that the federal government might wield the big stick and declare a state of emergency in any state that is unable to tame the recurring spate of militancy, assassination, kidnapping and other forms of unrest currently bedevilling the region.
This is especially so as elder statesman and one of the leaders of the region, Chief Edwin Clark, lamented recently that the parley between the federal government and stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the troubles in the region has been stalled.
The New Diplomat investigation revealed that most hit by this apprehension is the governor of Rivers State; Nyesom Wike. Sources close to the Government House, Port Harcourt disclosed to The New Diplomat that the governor is deeply worried over the growing level of insecurity in the state and is jittery that there could be a declaration of a state of emergency in the state if the situation is not put under control.
Recently, a prominent Port Harcourt-based human rights Lawyer, Ken Atswuete was assassinated. The news of the murder of was said to have sent the camp of Governor Wike into panic, because the late rights activist is an ardent opponent of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Rivers State.
Ken, as he was fondly called, was said to have been killed at his residence in Omuchiorlu in Aluu Community Ikwerre Local Government area of the state.
Prior to that, Rivers State had been in the news for every wrong reason as anarchy, bloodletting, kidnapping and murder have been the order of the day. The bloodletting that preceded and followed the last general election in the state is still fresh in the minds of many.
This development is said to have come to the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari who has expressed concern over the development and has confided in close associates that something must be done in earnest if the situation remains unchanged.
Perhaps, what has given credence to the heightened fear and apprehension over the possibility of the declaration of a state of emergency in the state is the recent show of force by the military in a recent exercise.
The presence of Troops of the 2nd Brigade, Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, parading the streets as part of the ongoing “Operation Crocodile Smile” in the area was said to have sent the residents into panic mode.
Wike is not alone in the pangs of fear. He has a close buddy in the governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson who is also battling unrest, anarchy and killings in the state tagged ‘’ Glory of all Lands”
Recently in Nembe city, Nembe Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, some suspected Niger Delta militants ambushed a location of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta Safe (ODS), in the city killing three soldiers and carting away several arms and ammunition belonging to the security operatives.
Reacting to the incident, Seriake Dickson was said to have expressed concern that the recent ambush of the security men was ‘unprovoked’, and capable of putting the state and the region in bad light.
Worst hit by activities of militants is Delta State which has also been bedevilled by the activities of militants which have adversely affected the nation’s economy.
A militant group, The Niger-Delta Avengers, has recently carried out a spate of bombings of oil installations cutting down the oil output of the country massively.
Another militant group, The Adaka Boro Avengers, had also threatened to declare a Niger-delta Republic but later postponed the declaration.
All these activities have put the Presidency on red alert and it has reportedly resolved to deal decisively with any state that fails to rein in its resident militants.
Indications of the declaration of a state of emergency first emerged earlier this year following the breakout of violence that trailed the re-run legislative election in the state.
A series of tweets had emanated from the official twitter handle of The PDP that President Buhari was meeting with the top hierarchy of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and a state of emergency might be declared soon.
The state apparently escaped the hammer then but might not be twice lucky as the president is reportedly miffed by the state of things in the state.
Similarly, all efforts at reaching a peaceful resolution has been fruitless as peace talks between the parties involved have been deadlocked.
If the president goes on to declare a state of emergency in the affected states, it won’t be unprecedented.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo declared state of emergency in two states namely Plateau and Ekiti during his eight years reign, while ex-President Jonathan declared states of emergency in some local governments spread across four northern states, namely Plateau, Yobe, Niger and Borno in the height of the Boko Haram insurgency