• Thursday, April 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigerian Governors’ Fraternity (NGF)

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Wendy

The “Governors’ Forum” is now the leading anti-democratic institution in Nigeria! I have previously described them as “Governors’ Cartel”, reflecting their proclivity to act as a trade or producers’ union rather than politicians elected on the platform of (different) political parties with party structures, manifestos and political objectives. The trend of PDP, ANPP, AC, APGA and (as at then) PPA governors acting as a political cult transcending or superseding their individual parties is an oddity. One columnist actually argued rather strenuously that this strange and peculiarly Nigerian phenomenon should be institutionalised into a “Governors’ Party”! Is it conceivable that republican and democratic governors in the US will develop a common political strategy that contradicts or even confronts their individual party platforms? Is this trend possible in Ghana, South Africa, Benin Republic, India or Brazil?

Nowadays the “Nigerian Governors’ OPEC” (rather appropriate since their real essence is to superintend the sharing of the proceeds of Nigeria’s oil sales amongst its members!) is becoming more insidious, dangerous and plausibly a threat to democracy! At the height of the political crisis over the absence of late President Yar’adua, the Governors issued then Acting President Jonathan and the rest of us, citizens, their “ruling” (taking over the functions of the Supreme Court) on the structure of executive power in Nigeria-Jonathan remains Acting President and Yar’adua, President! God reversed that extra-judicial judgment!!! Earlier, they “instructed” then PDP chairman Vincent Ogbulafor to publicly rule out Jonathan from the 2011 presidency on account of a purported zoning to the North. Again God has ensured that we are at least debating the issue.

The governors will also like to believe that they “directed” the National Assembly to recognise Jonathan as acting president. The reality is completely different-they did everything to prevent Jonathan from inheriting substantive power until civil society, led by “Save Nigeria Group”, the media and the international community made the power vacuum unsustainable while the fear of military intervention finally pushed the political class to act in self-preservation. Even then, they exacted a price-the sharing of $2billion of “excess crude” earnings! They have supervised the almost complete depletion of this account reportedly from over $20billion to just about $2billion! Recent reports from the National Economic Council suggests that they are also opposed to using the meagre remnants of that account to form the seed funding for the proposed sovereign wealth fund. They will rule and spend for today; someone else will be governor tomorrow so he can deal with the empty purses!

All these unprincipled and reckless positions can be dismissed as advancement of selfish interest, politics rather than statesmanship, and short-sightedness instead of foresight, but their most recent action in relation to constitutional amendment is a direct assault on Nigeria’s process of democratic consolidation. They (more correctly, sixteen of them, according to THISDAY of 15/7/10-Orji of Abia; Nyako of Adamawa; Akpabio of Akwa Ibom; Yuguda of Bauchi; Sylva of Bayelsa; Imoke of Cross River; Uduaghan of Delta; Elechi of Ebonyi; Oshiomhole of Edo; Goje of Gombe; Lamido of Jigawa; Dakingari of Kebbi; Saraki of Kwara; Amaechi of Rivers; Wamakko of Sokoto; and Suntai of Taraba) have apparently prevailed on their state houses of assembly to reject aspects of the constitutional amendment-participation of independent candidates in elections; independent funding for state legislatures; and raising the qualifications of elected public officers from secondary school certificate to diploma. Whatever the earlier posturing of those who opposed these provisions, we now know that they are not democrats! It is a shame that former NLC President Adams Oshiomhole is in this category. It also tells us something about politics and civil society in the “South-South” that all the states in that region opposed these provisions! The irony is that Oshiomhole and some others may have benefitted just a few years earlier from independent candidacy. It is significant (and gratifying) that none of the states in Western Nigeria acted in this odious manner.

It is a sad reflection on the current state of Nigerian politics that state legislatures acquiesced in subverting their own independent funding while supporting independent funding for the National Assembly. Evidently the governors would like a vibrant and independent legislature at the federal level to curb presidential power but would have no such nonsense in their own fiefdoms! They are also happy to have semi-literates fill up their legislatures and local government councils since those are easier to control! Nigerians must now recognise these governors as the greatest threat to our democracy. What they seek is a fascist state in which thirty-six of them meet to decree our destiny. They presume that it is their exclusive prerogative to decide who will be president in 2011 and are steadily altering Nigeria’s constitution to create a de facto veto-wielding national legislative house comprising thirty-six governors to which the Senate and Representatives report! Their current chair is actively expanding that unconstitutional role into an alternate presidency!!!

Today, we have a club of governors that purport to be superior to the judiciary, the ruling PDP, the National Assembly, CBN/Finance Ministry and even the Presidency! But then it should not be surprising. Their leader and chief strategist is Bukola Saraki, whose family owns Kwara State! Evidently he and his friends will like to own Nigeria as well!!! If you like Nigeria to become a family fiefdom or feudal enclave like Kwara, then ignore the actions of the Nigerian Governors Fraternity!!!