In a shocking turn of events, the political crisis in Rivers State intensified as the state government demolished the legislative chamber, consisting of six buildings, including the main chamber, erected during the tenure of Dr. Peter Odili.
The demolition, which on Wednesday commenced at 7 am and lasted until 5 pm, was justified by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson. In a statement, Johnson cited safety concerns arising from a recent explosion and fire incident within the assembly complex.
Amid the ongoing demolition, four lawmakers loyal to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, led by factional Speaker Edison Ehie, held a plenary at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
This occurred as 27 members of the House, previously elected on the Peoples Democratic Party platform, defected to the All Progressives Congress on Monday, expressing discontent over party divisions related to the National Secretary position.
Security measures were heightened during the demolition, restricting human and vehicular movement around Moscow Road leading to the Assembly. Heavily armed police and personnel were deployed at various locations.
Governor Fubara, present during the demolition, later returned to the Government House, where he presented the state’s 2024 budget to the Ehie-led legislators. The budget, named ‘Budget of Renewed Hope, Consolidation and Continuity,’ amounted to N800 billion. Capital expenditure received N410 billion (51%), while recurrent expenditure was allocated over N361 billion (49%).
The budget proposal hinged on assumptions, including a crude oil price benchmark of $70/barrel, 1.5 million barrels per day production, and an exchange rate of N750 to the dollar. The unfolding events underscore the deepening political turmoil in the state, raising concerns about the impact on governance and stability.