NGF ELECTIONS: A GAME TAKEN TOO FAR
We are all witnesses to the intrigues that built up before the first ever ‘general election’ of the forum. Before the Friday, May 24 election which took place in Abuja, previous Chairmen had always been elected by consensus without acrimony. Apparently, due to the special interests of major opposition parties and the ruling People’s Democratic Party, the brother Governors failed to decide on a consensus candidate this time around. Fair enough a ‘general election’ thus became necessary. The result according to reports is that Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State emerged victorious by polling a total of 19 votes out of 35 while his opponent, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau garnered 16 votes.
That will ordinarily have been the end of the matter but the alleged loser of that election has since gone on to declare himself as the authentic winner and opening a new secretariat for good measure. Governor Jang claims he is the true winner of the election by virtue of a list containing endorsements by 19 governors. The logical question would therefore be why the election was still necessary if His Excellency Jonah Jang already had 19 governors’ endorsement. The implicit conclusion is that Governor Rotimi Amaechi and his group rigged the election but is that really possible among 35 voters who are Governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? Both sides in the crisis need to consider the implications of their actions and utterances so as to spare their poor citizens, especially the youth, further embarrassment.
For the avoidance of doubt, the fractured NGF serves the Governor Jang team very well as the purpose is meant to whittle down the influence of Governor Rotimi Amaechi and those opposed to the PDP agenda. PDP naturally is trying to whip its ‘recalcitrant’ member into line; but at what price?
The Nigeria Governors Forum is a duly registered association of all 36 incumbent Governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Forum was established in 1999. Its avowed vision is “to promote good governance through the entrenchment of democratic culture as well as principles of accountability and rule of law” while its mission is “to promote unity, better understanding and co-operation between and among states of the Nigerian Federation as well as encourage the unity of purpose among and between the states on matters of mutual and common interests.” The present scenario clearly vitiates these laudable vision and mission thrusts. For one, its democratic culture is being put to test and it appears disunity is what is being promoted rather than unity among the states.
The Nigeria Governors Forum had grown in stature and relevance as it has through its programmes developed capacities for good governance, established a peer-review mechanism and contributed to the stabilization of the country through interventions that have brought win-win resolutions to knotty political and developmental challenges.
Recent developments may have led to the unintended impression especially in the Presidency that their intervention had become one too many as the Forum has been perceived as trying to become an alternate presidency as they contested many issues, the most serious being the Sovereign Wealth Fund. But with the expected grooming of the governors, one expects that such grievance could have been settled without making the Mr. President feel humiliated. It is also very unfortunate that the Forum was reported as being used for permutations for the 2015 presidential elections. The Governors should have fought hard to avoid and dispel this attempt as any partisan political agenda is sure to lead to its collapse. This is because the NGF is supposed to be absolutely non-partisan and the internal issues in the different political parties of the Governors should never have affected the smooth operation, focus and vision of the forum. There is therefore the urgent need to make the general public and key stakeholders aware of the purpose, achievements and over-all vision and mission of the NGF.
Obviously, feeling highly embarrassed by the unfolding developments, Governor Fashola is reported to have apologized on behalf of his colleagues and has also gone to court to stop the Governor Jang faction. While that is the civil and legal thing to do under a democracy BRANDPOWER believes that a rapprochement needs to be reached between the contending factions for the Forum to go back to the original intent and purpose of the Association. They introduced politics into this election. The problem can also be resolved politically if they have the will. NGF will be the ultimate loser should the battle continue. The world is getting smaller, companies are merging, countries are forming unions, different groups the world over recognize that there is strength in numbers but that strength must be used wisely otherwise it may create some unintended negative effect that may end up consuming everybody. Brother Governors, please sheathe thy swords!