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SUNDAY NARRATIVES: NGF’s Procured Valedictory

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Alabi Williams CopyTHE Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) met last week in what was to be a fence-mending valedictory session, as well also put in place a successor chairman in line with the tradition of the erstwhile august body.

That effort yielded some fruit, as the immediate past chair, Rotimi Amaechi, was reported to have yielded space to Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, as the new chair.
There was, however, no election to that effect, but Amaechi announced that consensus was reached in determining who the new chair should be.

As for the belated objective of mending fences in the divided NGF, it was apparent that not much was achieved, because apart from Amaechi, who is the leader of one faction of the NGF, the other half, led by Jonah Jang, outgoing governor of Plateau State was not well represented.

Apart from outgoing governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, who used to be a visible member of the Jang faction, other notable faces like Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa were not at that meeting.

While Amaechi sounded vaguely optimistic that the NGF had now “reconciled and are united as a single umbrella association of the 36 state governors of Nigeria,” onlookers are no doubt worried that the NGF crisis, which debuted in March 2013 does not have a good chance of being resolved in the hurried manner that was seen last week. If anything, there are chances that the feud could get carried over into the next administration.

Signs of another round of protracted rift surfaced last Sunday, when Gov. Dickson expressed the concern that the idea of resolving the two-year old conflict and selecting a new chairman of the Forum should have been left for the next set of governors to decide after May 29.

He wondered why, “the hurry in summoning a moribund and divided NGF under its multiple leaderships, especially in the dying days of its actors whose clash of egos and ambitions brought about the crisis in the NGF in the first place?” He was ignored, more or less, and he stayed away from the meeting. Olusegun Mimiko used to be vice chair of the Jang faction of the Forum. He too stayed away. Yet, Dickson and Mimiko are two powerful governors who are still going to be around, unlike Amaechi, Akpabio and others who are retiring this week.

If Akpabio, who is now going to the Senate found it convenient to seek some procured end to the NGF conflict, it is certainly not so for an Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, who is also going to be around for some years in the NGF. Such stakeholders like Mimiko, Dickson cannot be wished away. For an enduring solution, it is not enough for an Amaechi or a Babangida-Aliyu, who no longer have a stake in the affairs of the Forum to decree some consensus and contrive new appointments.

To buttress the fact that all is yet to be well with the NGF, the secretariat of the Jang Faction on Wednesday denounced the purported reconciliation of the two factions. It said such effort would be futile because majority of the governors will be out of office in a matter of days.

Fayose also pooh-poohed the process of producing a new chairman of the Forum, which he said was wrong because it excluded governors-elect who would constitute majority members of the group after the exit of many of the current governors. His line of thought, like that of Dickson, is that things are better left in the hands of the next players to resolve.

While Amaechi may have worked with the understanding that he has a responsibility to put in place a new leadership before leaving, just as the previous leadership bestowed it on him, he should have the good conscience to admit that it is not the same Forum he inherited that he is leaving behind. What he is leaving behind is a divided gathering of governors, which history has adequately recorded in his favour.

If he were interested in attempts at resolving the crisis, he is old enough in this business to know what to do, after being Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for eight years and then being governor for another eight years.

In the history of Nigeria politics, it does not always come this good. And that is why many expect Amaechi to bend backwards in the face of deliberate provocation, to show charity.

But that seems too late now, because it is not only at the NGF that the man is leaving behind a divided house. The Rivers Assembly was the venue of near fatal hostilities on his account and has remained divided for close to two years now, same with the Rivers Judiciary. What a legacy?

But in case Amaechi is at wits end to comprehensively resolve the crisis in the governors’ meeting before he leaves, what about the other ‘big men,’ the Isa Yugudas, Emmanuel Uduaghans and the Babangida Aliyus, who sat together last week to declare some consensual deal? Are they not supposed to reach wider consultations with the colleagues they are leaving behind? Well, we do know that the recent elections have knocked daylight out of some of these people and after the bludgeoning, they just want to go and rest. And we wish them well.

Going forward, we know the NGF is not a product of the Constitution and has no power to compel membership. But as a convention, it has provided a platform for governors to ventilate and compare notes. Under former governors Bukola Saraki, Lucky Igbinedion and Victor Attah, it was more of a stabilising factor, helping to provide soft-landing for their party during elections. They made it easy for their party’s presidential candidates to win elections.

Beyond that, there are aspects of the Forum that could have been institutionalised by now if not for the crisis – that of peer reviewing and comparing notes, as well as, capacity training. Some governors are elected with little or no experience at managing people and resources. A stable NGF could organise crash programmes on good governance and how not to steal people’s money for governors-elect. They could also learn one or two things about saving for the rainy day, especially now that many states have run themselves aground financially.
After May 29, when the antagonists on the two sides are out of the way, Nigerians expect to see some changes at the NGF, beginning with the Secretariat. Let good governance be seen in the activities of the Forum. Let maturity also prevail. Enough of infantile radicalism!

Fayemi’s Cross
THOSE who have the patience to read recent opinion articles in some dailies would have noticed a tendentious plot to assist former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi to write his story, different from what the man wants, and perhaps, what is in the mainstream media. These articles have a common thread, which you do not require any clairvoyance to unveil.

They simply want to put the man down. In local parlance, we know of Pull Him Down (Ph.D.), that sickening habit to attack people in the public space, with a view to rubbishing and undermining their integrity. And some times, you do not find immediate and justifiable reasons for this.

In this particular case, we are presented with a Fayemi who betrays others in order to climb fast or gain limelight. He is presented as a fawning hustler, who hovers around the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, in anticipation of a job offer.

All those who worked for the All Progressives Congress (APC) hope to benefit one way or the other from the new government, and that is normal.

Indeed, there is a jostle for positions and lobbyists are all over the place, either pushing credentials or doing smear campaigns to rubbish persons they perceive as obstacles. Ekiti, where Fayemi hails from has a long list of persons waiting to be engaged. It is the same thing in Delta, Akwa Ibom and elsewhere.

In one particular state, some have traced their history to the days of the Action Congress (AC) before the merger, in order to separate the ‘aborigines’ in the party from those who are ‘settlers.’ It is all well and good.

But in doing that, let the language be civil and let there be no deliberate attempt to distort history and damage persons. Why would those in the APC who say they abhor hate campaigns now turn on one of their own so mercilessly?

Fayemi is scholarly and visible. He does not look to me the kind of guy who waits for opportunities; he creates them. Since 1999, his concern has been to deepen democracy, through public discourse and intellectual engagement. When he got to Ekiti, he probably did not separate political intellectualism from the prevailing order. He lost and moved on to higher service. Those who still feel hurt should please forgive him. As for being visible, we simply have to live with that cause even the man cannot help himself. Just like a star.


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