The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), which was formed in 1999, may be heading for disintegration following the disagreement over the emergence of Rotimi Amaechi, governor of Rivers State, as chairman in its recent election. What ordinarily should be an association’s affair is, unfortunately, trying to affect the larger Nigerian nation.
The forum was formed to act as a rallying point for the 36 state governors and to present a common front when dealing with issues that affect the governors. It was modelled after the United States governors’ forum. A delegation was said to have been sent to America to understudy the workings of the group.
Over the years, the group has evolved to become a pressure group. The late Umaru Yar’Adua became president in 2007 from the group. It was also the group that propped up Goodluck Jonathan as vice president. In 2010, following the impasse over Yar’Adua’s lingering illness, the governors prevailed on the National Assembly to invoke the doctrine of necessity to enable Jonathan become president in acting capacity. They also pressed for the release of the excess funds, and as soon as Jonathan became president he released the funds to them.
The Nigerian masses do not think the forum has anything to offer them. For instance, during the January 2012 petrol subsidy saga, the forum urged the Federal Government to stick to its guns. They promised that government would provide buses to alleviate the burden of the masses. Sadly, Nigerians are still waiting to see the fulfilment of that promise.
To be clear, the NGF is not recognised by the 1999 Constitution (as amended); it is just an association basically put together to feather the nests of the governors themselves.
As it is, it appears the current crisis may sound the death knell on the forum. Neither of the two factions (Jonah Jang and Rotimi Amaechi) will be able to successfully convene a meeting of all the governors.
But it is sad that the NGF crisis is being linked to the presidency’s interference in the affairs of the forum. It was apparently this interference that led to the formation of a parallel PDP-Governors’ Forum headed by Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State.
Beyond that, it is regrettable that 36 state governors cannot conduct a successful election for themselves. What that simply means is that wrong drivers have all along been on the driving seats of the country’s 36 states.
It also casts doubt on the claim of President Jonathan that his administration has sanitised electoral process in the country. With the seeming endorsement of the “area boy” attitude of some governors by the presidency after the NGF election, and the suspension of Amaechi by the National Working Committee of the PDP, it appears that the country is in for terrible rounds of elections in 2015.
More importantly, the ongoing crisis is derailing governance. The sooner the governors stop distracting themselves in a venture that benefits nothing to the majority of Nigerians and face governance, the better for our democracy.