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In defence of Governors’ Forum

The governors may not be guilty after all on the position they took on the political impasse in the country.

By Mohammed Adamu

Last week in his column, ‘Pendulum’, Dele Momodu wrote a piece, entitled, “The Change They Can’t Stop” (Thisday March 6,2010), in which he singled out members of the National Governors Forum for a verbal diatribe of the vilest and most unsavory simile that I ever heard in a long time. And what was their offence? They dared, he said, to tell “the acting president to forget the idea of impeaching a chronically ill-president” and they also had the nerve to ask Jonathan to “sanction his boisterous ministers and turn them into robots”. Whatever that means! And for these unforgivable sins, Momodu’s pen went unabashedly –even if irresponsibly- berserk: “I wouldn’t have minded,” he wrote, “if these were stark illiterates who lacked the knowledge  of modern politics but some of them were sent to good schools by their parents only to end in the mud of Nigerian politics”.

They say that the best way to win an argument, in which you have neither law nor logic on your side, is to collapse it into an un-moderated, one-way verbal warfare in which only your voice is heard. Yet even at that, Momodu did not demonstrate any commendable street-wiseness nor did he radiate any recognizable flash of foul-spitting finesse that should go with that kind of art. In trying to make a caricature of the governors, he ironically made himself the butt of ridicule rather than the creator of caustic jest.

In a rare demonstration of duty and love of country and at a time of great national exigency, the Governors Forum, transcending the boundaries of political parties, religion, ethnicity and geo-politics, advised the acting president against taking any precipitate actions that could further polarize the polity.

If in a democracy we cannot agree or disagree with a simple political proposition or opinion of this innocent and harmless nature without descending to the arena of obscene and indignant vituperation, then it is something else and not democracy! Every Dele and every Momodu, in this country, on a daily basis, and, in virtually every  newspaper, ‘tells’ ‘Jonathan to do one funny thing or leave yet another; and the words come neither in native nor ‘modern’ diplomatese. They come in byzantine and medieval imperatives of ‘orders’ and ‘commands’.

And come to think of it, it was the same sense of duty, if memory will serve Momodu right, that patriotically moved the  governors, at a time of great national exigency, to unanimously throw their multi-partisan and cross–regional support behind the National Assembly in the  deployment of a  most bizarre and evidently non-legislative relief, namely the “doctrine of necessity” which invocation, even against the grain of law, saw Jonathan’s ascendancy to his current station as acting president. I do not have the vaguest recollection of Momodu or any of his foul-spitting co-travellers excoriating members of the National Assembly for appropriating to themselves a purely judicial function and which they used to accomplish a legislative illegality, let alone any of these so called champions of democracy and the rule of law taking the Governors Forum to task for supporting the NASS!

It is said that in a presidential system, the Presidency, together with parliament, constitute the sovereignty of a nation. But why should it be right for the Governors Forum to tell parliament to do what virtually everyone agrees to be a necessary illegality but the same Forum be held in breach of non-existent democratic ideals simply  for vouch-safing a democratic opinion of exigent value? And like A.C.’s Lai Mohammed naively said elsewhere “where do these governors derive their power to dictate to the acting president!?  As if the democratic right to voice an opinion is now regulated by legislation. In any case, the answer to Lai’s question is found in simple logic: The governors derived their power from the same source where they derived the power to tell the National Assembly to make Jonathan acting president.

But like William Gladstone wrote: “Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. “The heated mind,” he said, “resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic”.
I have said in a previous piece that there are three groups of characters in the current Yar’Adua health debate who are bent on pushing the nation to the precipice: First, some mischievous lawyers who do too little law and too much politics; second, some self-serving politicians who claim to know both law and politics and third, some compromised journalists who do more law and politics than journalism. And their motives are as diverse as they come! But it is certainly not about moving this country forward.

Momodu said “since those who should protect our hard earned democracy have chosen to toy dangerously with it, the Nigerian people must rise up once again to rescue our nation from these hijackers.” I have no problem with that. But even Momodu, in his legionary incoherence and inconsistency, could not categorically say who these ‘hijackers’ are. In one breath, it was the Northern Governors Forum, in another, the National Governors Forum or just minus a few to whom maybe he owes some loyalty. In yet another breath, it was Turai or PDP. He would want to single out the north for spanking but he could not prove that other southern governors were there at gunpoint. Momodu should read, ‘The North: Let Truth Be Told’; at the risk of sounding immodest, it is the litmus test of soul searching and self criticism. Every region has its own foibles. But do they all have their truth tellers?

Momodu and his co-travellers should make up their minds about what they think would “move this country forward” because, as the governors rightly said, it does not necessarily lie in impeaching Yar’Adua and installing Jonathan as president. They should also make up their minds about who they think are holding this country from moving forward because the truth is that it is held down as much by those in power as by those in the de facto possession of power whether it is of the ‘pen’, the ‘wig’ or the ‘arena’; it is held as much by the selfishness of leaders at all levels as by the self-serving naivety and timidity of the so-called ‘led’.

*Adamu is an Abuja based journalist


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