NGF: Jonathan and Governors’ Circus , By Zainab Suleiman Okino

Mrs. Zainab Suleiman OkinoFor want of a better description, the governors of the 36 states of the federation have made a laughing stock of themselves beginning from last Friday. At the end of a bitterly fought election for the position of chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), there was apparently no consensus. The result is what we have today—parallel forums headed by both Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state and Jonah Jang of Plateau. The crisis, is to say the least, a shame; it is reprehensible and an affront on democracy.

In the history of the unconstitutional but powerful NGF, no issue/problem had threatened to divide it and the nation like their last election. At the heart of it is the 2015 election and who takes what. Unfortunately, as dirty as the war is, Nigerians are having a good laugh and appear to be enjoying what has become a circus, as much as they are concerned about what the crisis portends for the country.

The governors, have always arrived at an agreement in the nick of time, at the detriment of the comfort and happiness of Nigerians, just when you think disagreements would tear them apart. For instance, on the issues of autonomy for local governments, state police and Sovereign Wealth Fund, they had a common voice. But since last Friday when the cookies crumbled, the NGF has been in disarray, no thanks to Jonathan’s overbearing meddlesomeness, the governors’ individual ambitions and, to a large extent, how the intrigues of the 2015 will play out.

By now, it is glaring to everyone that the power struggle between the president and Governor Amaechi leading to the grounding of the latter’s aircraft and the sacking of the state’s PDP executive is yet to abate. All this while, Jonathan had operated from the background. The presidency got most governors to sign documents to swing support for his anointed candidate as the chairman of the forum. First, it was Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, followed by Isa Yuguda of Bauchi state and at the last minutes, the president unveiled Jang as his candidate, all in a bid to stop Amaechi. While the scheming was going on, I understand that some governors rejected the idea and politely told the president to hands off the Amaechi matter, because doing so would further popularize the stubborn governors but the president would not budge. Out of desperation, the presidency got some governors to sign some documents that would affirm his (the president’s) anointed candidate and went to sleep. But lo and behold, the unexpected happened.

While reeling out the snags in Amaechi’s election on Friday night, Governor Goodswill Abkabio said 19 governors affirmed Governor Jang as their chairman. He also alleged that Governor Amaechi presided over the election that returned him as the winner. But there are underlining questions that are begging for answers. First, elections are supposed to have taken place directly and not by affirmation or selection. Where was Akpabio and his

team when Amaechi served as the returning officer in an election that produced him? If the Akpabio team felt slighted by the way Amaechi conducted the affairs of the day, why did they not protest and walk out? Their approval to go into a glaringly flawed election underscores the level of confidence they had in their own contrivance to do the president’s bidding. And when the table was turned, they began to cry foul.

The governors’ election is symptomatic of how polls are conducted in Nigeria, and an indication of how the 2015 election will play out. In this country, governors are dictators; they are Lords Of The Manor and decree how elections are done. It is either by affirmation ala Akpabio, or the incumbent sits atop to dictate things like Amaechi did. So, what kind of

democratic elections was Akpabio expecting when he himself disclosed how he forcefully rigged a senator into office and his current attempts to stop him in 2015 because of his own ambition of going to the Senate? Senator Etok and GovernorAkpabio are from the same senatorial district. To me, the governors’ crisis is a storm in a tea cup. It is not worth the time of ordinary Nigerians to dissipate energy in matters that would not put food on their table, pay their children’s school fees and guarantee good governance. And we can dispense with their group and whatever services it renders.

Amaechi or Jang is not the crux of the matter. Jonathan and his 2015 ambition is. When the PDP Governors’ Forum was formed, the hawks at the corridors of power came up with an excuse on the need to rotate and balance key positions by electing the governors’ chairman from the North. This is laughable. It’s also unthinkable that someone would ever broach the idea of power shift, a concept that the president himself killed and buried in 2011.

The result of the “roforofo” fight among the governors is also symbolic in the sense that contrary to his assumption that the Northern political class would be manipulated in 2015 to support his candidature as they did in 2011, the president would need King Solomon’s wisdom to be able to re-enact his 2011 deceit. I do hope that in their battle for supremacy they (the governors and the president) would not destroy the country they seek to rule, and make innocent Nigerians cannon fodders in their ambitious quest for power.

Now, we have two NGFs but the fact that we do not need either of them makes nonsense of their fight for supremacy.

Jigawa: In charge of its destiny

The unprecedented infrastructural transformation of the last six years in Jigawa state has turned the state into a destination of sort for investors. But it is not enough if these assets and endowments are not aggregated to serve as catalysts for technological take-off. This underscores the Jigawa State Economic Summit starting from today. The summit, ‘Mobilising Capital and Investment For Sustainable Development’ is conceived by the state to galvanise ideas and investments in agriculture, micro, small, and medium enterprise, solid minerals, commerce and ICT. Pre-independent and independent Nigeria used to have economic and development plans, but the neo-liberal politicians we now have advocate free market economy determined by stronger Western economies. This has over the years pauperised the populace, leaving frustration and anger in its wake.

It is, therefore appropriate that the Sule Lamido government is desirous of laying the solid foundation for harnessing these opportunities for the improvement of the lives of the people of the state and to avoid the popular expression of “failing to plan, and planning to fail”. The people of Jigawa state, led by their hardworking governor, have begun planning today, in order to guarantee their future wellbeing.

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