By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The awesome power and bearing of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF had in the recent past raised concern among some stakeholders in the polity. Now an internal discord driven by external power peddlers is about bringing the once powerful body to its knees.
It is a name perpetually framed in infamy for the betrayal of the Righteous One. Judas Iscariot, the kiss and tell associate of Jesus Christ was perhaps disappointed by the determination of Jesus not to use His seemingly magical powers to overpower the Roman colonial powers who ruled over ancient Palestine.
By choosing the meek life, Jesus disappointed Judas, an accountant who perhaps saw himself as a shoo-in for Minister of Finance in the kingdom he expected Jesus to establish after driving away the Roman powers. It was such ambition of money and power that drove Mr. Iscariot towards the path of betrayal and a perpetual place in the hall of infamy.
So, given the combustible effect of money and power, it is not surprising that a Governor Judas or more of such may have infiltrated the ranks of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF.
Chairman of the newly formed Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Governors Forum, PDP GF, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State made the revelation last Tuesday during a courtesy visit to the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Intimating the national chairman of his agenda, Akpabio who was reportedly appointed by the party leadership in concert with presidency officials, said:
“What the PDP is trying to do now is to cleanse its house; to try to identify the ones they call Judases and say to them ‘go out, the train is moving’. We will ask them not to remain standing otherwise we will crush them,” the Akwa Ibom governor, popularly known by his associates and followers as the agent of uncommon transformation said.
The identification of Judas or Judases in the midst of the country’s elitist Governors Forum was an unprecedented effort by the ‘uncommon transformation’ agent.
That Governor Akpabio was chosen for the challenging job of rooting out the Judases in the PDP would have been based on some traits found in him, even above his fellow governors.
Governor Akpabio’s remark was understandably welcomed by the national chairman who himself, had lately been in battle against the NGF, in a confrontation apparently instigated by the Judas or Judases in the midst of the governors.
The governors or the Judases, according to sources had been planning to root out Tukur as national chairman arising from the mutual differences between him and the majority of the members of the governors’ body.
Governor Akpabio’s assertion last Tuesday apparently revealed to all that he, Akpabio, was undoubtedly not in league with the governors in their actions and assertions against Tukur.
The NGF had had cause to confront Tukur on several occasions and most recently, on the sustenance of the party executive in AdamawaState. The NGF led by Governor Rotimi Amaechi had forced the party’s NWC to reverse itself on the earlier decision to dissolve the Umar Kaguma led executive.
Following the reversal of the dissolution, it also emerged that some governors were allegedly against the second term ambition of the president, a plot, many newspapers reported earlier this week was being championed by Governor Amaechi.
Amaechi, however, had in the past denied such suggestions, saying that his assertions on the performance of the president were aimed towards helping the president who is from the South-South geopolitical region.
Once Governor Akpabio gave his agenda of rooting out the judases in the governors’ body to Tukur and the NWC members gathered last Tuesday, the national chairman heaved a big sigh of relief indicating in his response that the governor had touched on an issue that had worried the president. “I can now tell Mr. President to sleep well. Now, if he has been sleeping for three hours before, I can even ask him to start observing his siesta regularly,” the national chairman disclosed.
Given that Akpabio did not identify the Judas or Judases among the Governors Forum, permutations would only be a guess work. It is, however, certain that Governor Serikae Dickson, a close associate of President Jonathan who went the extent of appointing the president’s wife as a permanent secretary is not one of them.
Governor Dickson has been profuse in supporting Akpabio in his agenda of crushing the Judases, pulling out several pages in the newspapers to identify with the chairman of the PDP-GF.
There are others who would also not fit in the mould of Judas as defined in the party secretariat last Tuesday.
Among them are Governors Ibrahim Shema of KatsinaState who by several accounts was the party’s choice to replace Amaechi in the aborted election of last Monday. Shema is also being touted as a possible running mate to President Jonathan in 2015 being that he is in his second term. However, the same worries that have been raised about the incumbent vice-president, Namadi Sambo are also being raised about Shema.
The question asked by several stakeholders and probably Jonathan minders is, the extent to which Shema can bolster Jonathan in the far north. Though Governor Shema has been praised for performing above many of his peers, his political clout outside Katsina remains an issue.
Others that would have been excluded in the list of traitors in the NGF should include Governors Theodore Orji of Abia, Gabriel Suswam of Benue and Martin Elechi of Ebonyi.
Governor Orji’s proclivity to the Jonathan agenda has been largely predictable since he championed his state’s “liberation” from the alleged hold of a mother and son dictatorship.
As nearly every one knows, Dame Patience Jonathan’s draws part of her ancestry from AbiaState and Governor Orji has been careful to be seen to be supportive of his in-law in the presidential villa. Besides, Governor Orji would not be rash to cut off from the presidential villa at a time his one time patron and benefactor turned nemesis, Orji Kalu is angling to return to the PDP. Acolytes of Governor Orji have been in an overdrive aiming to stop Kalu’s readmission into the PDP and it would be unlikely for the governor to change the tune.
However, while the likes of Shema, Dickson, Elechi and Suswam may not fit into the pattern of the Judases imagined by Governor Akpabio, the guess is still out there on who the real Judases are or is.
But as the governor settles down to his arduous task, some are affirming that one man’s Judas is also another man’s Jesus.
So, as Governor Akpabio goes about his duties of crushing the Judases, it is certain that the man whose acolytes hail him as the uncommon transformation agent may have irretrievably altered the shape and structure of the Nigerian Governors Forum. Maybe to the respite of many who had worried over the powers of the elitist body.