Cracks in Northern Governors' Forum

By The Rainbow

More members of the Northern Governors' Forum are preparing to withdraw their membership of the 19-member group in protest over the May 24 Nigeria Governors' Forum election, the PUNCH has reported.

According to the newspapers Tuesday edition, the  governors are those sympathetic to Governor Jonah Jang, who heads a faction of the Nigeria Governors' Forum.

A formidable member  of the Northern Governors' Forum and  Bauchi State Governor  Isa Yuguda had on Sunday  pulled out of the  group.

Yuguda, one of  the two contestants for  the Nigeria Governors' Forum election who stepped down for Jang had  cited the breach of an agreement by his colleagues to support the Plateau State governor.

'I don't see any reason why I should attend the Northern Governors meeting again. If that is what we will do, I am not going to be part of it. For the remaining two years of my tenure, I will not be part of the Northern Governors' Forum,' he told an Abuja-based newspaper.

He challenged other northern governors who allegedly  betrayed the understanding  reached  during the forum's meeting to own up and face him.

Northern governors had reached an agreement to support Jang as a consensus candidate after asking Yuguda and Shema to step down.

The PUNCH's in the Northern Governors' Forum told one of our correspondents in Abuja on Monday  that those that had decided to toe Yugudu's line were particularly miffed by   the  role played by Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu during the May 24 election.

'If  the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, remains the chairman, pro-Jang governors in the North would leave the forum,'the  source  said.

Although he did not give the number of pro-Jang governors that might leave the  19-member Northern Governors' Forum, the paper learnt that one of them is in the North Central while another is in North-West.

An aide to the governor  in the North Central  defended  Yuguda's action, saying he  simply listened to his conscience.

He said, 'The man(Yuguda)  simply listened to his conscience and stepped aside on principle. There was a meeting where the agreement to support Jang was reached. For some  members of the same group to betray this agreement is heartbreaking.  My governor  thinks through decisions before taking them.'

The  votes of  Aliyu,  Rabiu Kwankwaso(Kano)  and  Sule Lamido( Jigawa) are believed to have given   Governor Rotimi Ameachi victory during the Nigeria Governors' Forum election.

A Northern doctor turned politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has however advised  Northerners not to  lose sleep over the crisis.

Junaid said, 'Politics is a game of numbers, if anybody has any illusions about becoming the President by circumventing the democratic process, good luck to him.

'Such a person will not only have local but international opinion weighing down on him.'

According to him, neither  Shema nor  Yuguda will be in a position to deliver their states   during the  2015 elections.

He said, 'Both of them are second term governors, they stand no chance of installing  their own men as successors in their states  let alone the Presidency.

'They and others like them cannot stop the North from getting what it wants to get, that I can assure you.'

But  the Middle Belt Youth Leaders' Forum   called on  Aliyu  to resign  as chairman of the Northern Governors' Forum.

Its  National Secretary,  Mr. Philip Agbese, told  journalists in Abuja that 'the  planned removal of Governor   Aliyu as Chairman of the Northern Governors' Forum or expiration of his tenure is  a  development that must be applauded because posterity will not forgive the very actors who have decided to play politics with the unity of the North, which used to be our political bargaining power.'

Meanwhile,  the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John  Cardinal Onaiyekan, has  said  it is unfortunate that an election involving only  35  governors  could not provide a credible result.

He said while receiving  members  of the Alliance for Credible Elections   and the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja in   his Abuja  residence, that ' Democracy is nothing, if it does not translate to good governance because at the end of the day, it is good governance that will impact on the lives of the people.'

Onaiyekan  added  that  the  security of the people was the most important element of good democratic society.

'We can have an election that is considered as free and fair by everybody but if at the end the people are not served, it is just a useless victory.  Every Nigerian is complaining of one form of injustice or the other, some are easy to handle while some are not easy to tackle,'' he said.

In Ilorin, Kwara State, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Belgore,  applauded   Governor  Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State for going to court over the controversy surrounding the  Nigeria Governors' Forum   election.

Fashola had filed a suit at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in his capacity as a member of NGF.

He  asked the court to stop Jang, who now heads a faction  of the NGF   from parading himself as the chairman of the group.

Belgore in an interview with our correspondent  on Monday, said the court was the best arena for redress or arbitration for any aggrieved person.

He said,'That is what the courts are for.  I commend anybody who takes his case to the court. The problem is that people take the laws into their hands.

'People abuse their positions.  But when someone has a grievance and takes it to court, you submit it to the lawful authority and you set an example for orderliness of society.  So I commend Governor Fashola's action.'

Belgore, who was  the Action Congress of Nigeria governorship candidate for the  2011 election in Kwara State, said the factionalisation of  the NGF   was disgraceful and needless.

He accused the Presidency of being behind the crisis, adding that it (Presidency) should not have  meddled in NGF election.

The SAN  added,  'NGF is a governors' forum and not a forum for the governors of the President.  So the forum should have been left alone without interference to determine who its  chairman should  be.  It is the interference and meddlesomeness of the Presidency that has led to this crisis.   I think the Presidency and nobody else should be blamed for what has happened.'