By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
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Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, Chairman of Forum of Organised Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP) in Rivers State has stated that the major factors leading to the formation of the Forum include the need to restore peace, stabilise governance, provide quality leadership to the people of Rivers State and most importantly have in place a viable body to checkmate government excesses especially in the area of fund administration. He made this statement among others while fielding questions on the Political phone-in Talk show View Point on Rhythm Radio 93.7 Port Harcourt this past Saturday.

He averred that forming the FOOPP had also become expedient as a means of discouraging and ultimately preventing some unscrupulous politicians who hitherto had abused political opportunities in the past from hijacking any of the 43 platforms to use as a vehicle for unleashing further havoc on the State..

Paying mind to the widely held view that the FOOP's decision to join hands with government seemingly faults the essence of a viable opposition, Dr. Ikanya went further to state that opposition no longer exists solely to criticise the government in power for the fun of it, but also- as is now obtainable by the FOOPP model in Rivers state – to join forces with the incumbent administration to expand the scope of ideas on how to improve governance in the State. In his own words, “We have no State other than Rivers State and with the state of insecurity prior to the swearing in of Amaechi as Governor, coupled with his call on all Rivers sons and daughters to join him in rebuilding Rivers State, we have no regrets for taking this step that will ultimately reposition the state to adequately surmount every conceivable challenge of governance” The Forum of Organised Opposition Parties (FOOP) said yesterday that its decision to join the Gov. Chibuike Amaechi-led unity government was to contribute to the development of the state.

FOOP Chairman, Davies Ikanya, said that we did not join the unity government to abandon our parties ideologies and manifestos, but to assist the PDP-led govt in developing the state. "What we are doing is to complement the government to make sure that there is peace and development.”We do not have to fight the government in power in order to be called opposition parties. We can make our input on the issue of governance as stakeholders," he said.

Throwing more light on the essence of the Unity Government in Rivers State, Hon. Garshon Benson, Secretary General of FOOPP and the State Chairman of DPP who was also a Panellist on the show, gave the issue an international outlook, “... In Zimbabwe in the last general elections, the leading political parties decided to go into unity government (power sharing) to save the country from disintegration. This proves that the most important consideration is the state of the nation not political platform. President Barack Obama's Cabinet is made up of Democrats and Republicans; General Colin Powell a respected Republican endorsed Obama a Democrat for the presidency citing his ability to inspire change in America. Israel is well known for its unity/coalition government in the interest of the country no matter the party that wins the majority votes; the FOOPP is in the unity government of Rivers State to save our State and to ensure judicious use of our scarce resources”.

On the allegation that Gov. Amaechi gave a whopping sum of two Hundred Million Naira (N200M) to the opposition to come together to support his government, Dr. Ikanya reiterated that this claim was a plot hatched by detractors to discredit the FOOPP. He went on to add, “Although government is bound constitutionally to fund the opposition within reasonable limits, Amaechi unlike his predecessor Odili, is a prudent manager of state government funds. It is this absence of exchange of lucre that further maintains the integrity of the FOOPP coupled with its leader Prince Tonye Princewill's avowed refusal to accept any assistance in this regard from the Governor”.

In response to the question of endorsement by the various National Leaderships of the parties in the FOOPP prior to joining the Unity Government, Ikanya and Benson put to rest all speculations once and for all by answering in the affirmative. They pointed out that each party in the Forum was encouraged to hold meetings to the Ward Levels to seek consent before joining the Forum.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
Media Consultant, FOOPP, Rivers State