Last week, I described the Nigerian Governors’ Forum variously as a club, cartel or fraternity that increasingly seems determined to turn Nigeria into a fascist rather than a democratic state. Several events in the seven days (!) since the column was written reinforce my point. Readers will recall the essence of that article.
Firstly, it is strange for governors elected on the basis of differing party platforms to act as a political group superseding their individual parties. That trend eliminates the checks and balances inherent in multi-party democracies and undermines the political party system. Secondly, the governors have demonstrated little, if any statesmanship during the Yar’adua crisis and in relation to national financial management as all their actions seem motivated by selfish political (and economic) calculations rather than national interest.
Thirdly, the strongest signal to date that the core of the “Governors’ Forum” does not seek a democratic state is their opposition to some aspects of the recent constitutional amendment that would have allowed independent candidacy and financial autonomy for state legislatures. The fact that the state legislatures acquiesced in a process that denied them autonomy while conceding same to INEC, the National Assembly and the Judiciary should alarm any patriots to the fact that our governors are actually very close to establishing themselves as absolute monarchs and fascists, rather than elected leaders who are subject to constitutional restraints. Indeed THISDAY Newspapers called them “The Imperial Governors”! Fourthly, the governors are creating (or at least steadily working towards creating) a de facto constitutional structure in which they are superior to the legislature, judiciary, party system, CBN/Finance Ministry (with regard to management of the federal wealth) and even the Presidency. Finally in my view, much of the governors’ move towards a feudal and fascist governance system may be traced to the leadership of Bukola Saraki, whose family has already established a dynasty in Kwara State based on similar principles.
As I said, much of my arguments have been re-validated, less than seven days after the column was written. A few days later, the PDP Governors warned PDP Chairman, Okwuesilieze Nwodo, to stop further comments on zoning, confirming that they believe they are superior to the party and its membership. Curiously, these were the same people who asked Nwodo’s predecessor Vincent Ogbulafor (at a time of high national tension when the locus of power was yet to be resolved) to announce that the presidency has been zoned to the North. Why did they not think then that such a position was premature, and what has changed since then? The reality is that the governors (or in fact a small group of them who may be manipulating the others) clearly have their own agenda which is clearly opposed to President Jonathan’s.
Some days later, former Cross Rivers State Governor, Donald Duke, released an explosive expose which the Guardian published on Sunday July 18, 2010 titled: “How Governors Rig Elections”. The publication confirms that most election rigging is perpetrated, not by the much-vilified INEC, but by the Governors using their proximity to the resident electoral commissioners, bribery and corruption, and the polling officers who are often teachers and civil servants employed by the states. It is now clear that if we want free, fair and credible elections, the influence of governors over the electoral process must be eliminated or severely curtailed.
Now we know that when governors say that “all votes must count”, they mean the votes which they have fraudulently recorded in their states must not be overwritten by the federal INEC or the presidency. What they want is free, fair and credible rigging! Finally the same day that my column was published (Wednesday July 21, 2010) the Punch Newspapers published an interesting story titled: “How Governors Plan to Frustrate Jonathan”. The report detailed plans by the PDP governors to prevail on their party to hold the governorship primaries before the presidential one, thus ensuring that once they have secured their party nominations as governorship candidates (and ensured the nomination of their surrogates for those who would have served the mandatory two terms), they would be free to betray any understandings they may have reached with Jonathan. Of course that confirms the view that any positions advanced by these people are rarely motivated by national interest but by their determination to foist their will on the Nigerian people.
What might the governors be seeking to achieve in 2011? A careful analysis of their actions will suggest that they may have three options-A, B and C! I am not in a position to determine their preferred hierarchy amongst the plans (!) but Plans A and B may be Atiku Abubakar and Ibrahim Babangida respectively, both of whom may have received assurances from them; while Plan C will be one of the governors themselves, most probably Bukola Saraki or Danjuma Goje! Plan C may indeed be the real McCoy while IBB and Atiku may be used in the interim, to deflect presidential power and anger! In all of these scenarios, a vice-presidential candidate from any of the “South-South” or “South-East” governors will be on the ticket, but the advantage will probably be with one whose state is rich enough to finance the group’s plans.
In order to execute this strategy, the governors will string Jonathan along until an opportune moment and then betray him in favour of their decided strategy.