By Donu Kogbara
WHAT is the big deal about a bunch of governors getting together from time to time to chat about issues that concern them…and then disagreeing with the President whenever they think that he is being unfair or unwise?
To be honest, until those who claim to have Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s welfare at heart started to carry on, somewhat hysterically and paranoidly, as if the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, was a dangerous, evil revolutionary outfit, the NGF barely registered on my radar screen…which is why I have probably only mentioned it once or twice since I launched this column six years ago!
As far as I’m concerned, the NGF – which is not recognised in the Constitution – is nothing more than a club for guys who occupy various government houses. And it’s not as if they are all admirable. Frankly, some of them are obnoxious jokes.
Achievement of governors
However, the characters and achievements of governors are not my main focus today. I simply want to make the point that, like many organisations that have been formed by naturally assertive individuals who belong to the same profession and have common interests – the National Union of Journalists and Nigerian Bar Association, for example – the NGF can sometimes be troublesome.
But this is supposed to be a democracy, for crying out loud! And governors are as entitled to express their views and choose their leaders as anyone else.
Ditto the President and his fans – who have every right to regard the governors as unreasonable and dislike any Chairman the governors elect.
But there are smart and mature ways of dealing with such differences of opinion and personality clashes. And it is not terribly smart or mature to crudely and cruelly victimise Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the NGF Chairman, to the point where he is attracting widespread sympathy and has become a national hero!
Amaechi – a performing governor – has been treated appallingly and suspended from the PDP. Meanwhile, a secretly-shot video conclusively proves that he won last Friday’s NGF election, fair and square, by three votes (if you haven’t already seen the video, you can access it on http://www.saharareporters.com/).
But The Powers That Be have persuaded some of Amaechi’s colleagues to turn on him and insult our collective intelligence. And we are now being assured that the “REAL” Chairman of the NGF is Jonah Jang, the Governor of Plateau State…who allegedly enjoys the support of half of the NGF members.
People who have normal human instincts do not approve of bullying, especially when the bullies don’t have great track records and possess more weapons than the bullied; and almost all of the Nigerians and foreigners I’ve spoken to recently are rooting for Amaechi because they see him as a plucky little David who is struggling to survive unjust assaults from a mighty, vindictive Goliath.
One would have thought that Jang – whose state has been a hugely violent and hugely embarrassing mess for far too long – would be too busy with his core gubernatorial duties to bother about relatively trivial NGF issues.
But this is Nigeria! – a profoundly dysfunctional country in which VIPs are permitted to get away with misplaced priorities. And we’re hearing that Jang – whom some journalists are sarcastically describing as “the factional Chairman of NGF” is currently preoccupied with establishing “a new factional NGF office”.
What a factional farce!
BY the way, I feel obliged to – reluctantly – say that I am very disappointed in Godswill Akpabio, the Awka Ibom Governor. I don’t know him well but have met him a couple of times and have visited Uyo to check out his projects.
And he struck me as a decent, serious gent who was doing lots of good work for the citizens who kindly voted for him. And I don’t understand why he has allowed himself to become the unpopular face of anti-Amaechi hostility and skullduggery.
Does Akpabio not realise that there is safety in numbers?…and that he himself may eventually suffer if his attempts to dis-empower the NGF succeed?
At the end of the day, this terrifyingly toxic and totally unnecessary drama boils down to tragic pettiness, suicidal lack of judgement (making mountains out of molehills!) and the pathetic political ineptitude of a handful of bad advisors.
The last thing that Niger Deltans and Nigerians need at this critical juncture is squabbling or aloof leaders who aren’t willing or able to save us from shame and failure.
And I urge Mr President to remember that he will need maximum backing if he wants a second term…and to summon Amaechi like a junior brother and make peace with him…as in GENUINELY (as opposed to just pretending!).
In a nutshell, the Amaechi and Jonathan wings of the PDP should please, for their sakes and all of our sakes, bury the hatchet…but not in each others’ backs!