What looked like a brewing row between the Rivers State Government and its Federal counterpart, which has left many Nigerians on edge, has suddenly evaporated.
This is a result of a flurry of activities within the last one week which appears to have restored calm.
Although Governor Nyesom Wike had blown hot, following what his administration saw as the undermining of its executive order, he eventually ordered the release of 22 oilmen who were being held captive.
Wike said that his government’s decision was influenced by the intervention of well meaning persons whose identities he did not disclose.
PENGASSAN, a powerful union within the oil industry, had vowed to embark on a crippling campaign if its members who were being held by the Rivers State Government were not freed.
This week, the premises of Caverton Helicopters which was earlier shut down was reopened by the Rivers State Government.
The Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council in whose area Caverton does business was ordered by the administration to unseal the premises.
The action apparently brings to an end, what could have turned into an intense face off between the Federal Government and its Rivers counterpart.
Wike had earlier noted during a news briefing that the company whose pilots were arrested at the Air Force Base, an airfield belonging to the Federal Government, has pleaded for leniency.
So far, Wike appears to be strengthening government’s resolve in its war against the Coronavirus.
Two persons who tested positive initially have been allowed to return to their families after they were effectively treated.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said in an Easter message that he was astutely in support of anyone who is fighting the spread of the virus.
He did not refer specifically to the Rivers State Government in his statement, but observers who reviewed his position say Amaechi had spoken as a statesman at a time of great national emergency.
As things are, the fight against the spread of the virus intensifies.
Governor Wike said in his last State broadcast that Government was turning attention to the level of compliance with its directives.
Said the Governor, “We are equally monitoring the level of compliance to our restrictions on social gathering in all other local government areas and will take appropriate measures against communities that chose to imperil the lives of others by refusing to practice social distancing”.
Wike was apparently furious with those who had defied extant orders by unilaterally reopening their businesses.
Accordingly, a complete lockdown of all activities within certain parts of Port Harcourt city has been announced.
“While we commend our people for generally adhering to our restrictions on social distancing”, Wike hinted, “we deplore the lack of compliance with the order on shutting business activities by some residents in parts of the Port Harcourt.”
“These people are endangering the lives of everybody in the State”, Wike observed.
“Consequently, we are constrained to place the following areas of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area under a total and complete lockdown until further notice:
• Creek Road, including Prison junction, Nembe waterside, Cultural Centre, Yam Zone and Ahoada Street.
• Diobu area, including education bus stop, Kalabari by Odi Street, Afikpo Street, Gambia Street, the entire Ikoku Spare part zone, Rivers State University roundabout, and Abali Park under the flyover (both descending and ascending).”
The government urged all residents and visitors to these neighbourhoods to stay at home, stressing, “All business premises, shops and commercial interactions must also cease in these places with immediate effect.”
“We have also noticed that stores and remote spaces are being converted to mini-markets in Obio/Akpor Local government Area by unscrupulous persons in defiance of the ban on market activities in the State” the statement said.
“This should stop immediately, otherwise, we shall be compelled to lockdown the entire Local Government Area and deal with those flouting our directives”, Wike warned.
Appealing to the people to cooperate with the State Government, Wike added, “We know how painful these measures are to the residents in particular, but at this critical moment, it is the right thing to do as a precaution to avoid potential exposure to, and spreading of the virus from these areas.”
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