November 6, 2013

G7 Governors: Hot and Cold

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor Harried here and there, the seven governors aligned to the Kawu Baraje faction of the ruling PDP are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea It was supposed to have been the ultimate provocation.

The invasion of the meeting of the G7 governors belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP at the Kano State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja last Sunday was generally regarded as the worst form of provocation.

As Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State said during that epic encounter between the five governors and the Divisional Police Officer, DPO of the Asokoro Police Station, CSP Nnanna Ama such harassment could not have happened during the second republic.

Governor Lamido who was an active player in that dispensation on the platform of the opposition, Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, the Shehu Shagari controlled executive branch of the Federal Government did not harass the meetings of the Progressive Parties Alliance, even if the utterances and actions of those governors often infuriated the Shagari government.

*Governors Rabiu Kwankaso, Sule Lamido, Rotimi Amaechi, Babangida Aliyu & Murtala Nyako

*Governors Rabiu Kwankaso, Sule Lamido, Rotimi Amaechi, Babangida Aliyu & Murtala Nyako

Perhaps by Lamido’s observation, 30 years down the road the system of democracy in the land remains shadowed in dictatorship. The five governors who were meeting under the aegis of the rebel new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, were by the summation of the DPO, meeting illegally.

The interruption of the governors’ meeting that day followed a similar but not so overt attempt against the same governors penultimate Friday at the Sokoto State governor’s lodge. Present at the Sunday meeting hosted by the Kano State governor, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwanso were his colleagues from Jigawa, Niger, Adamawa and Rivers States; Alhaji Sule Lamido, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, Alhaji Murtala Nyako and Mr. Rotimi Amaechi respectively.

Working relationship Also present were the factional national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje and other leaders of the party including Alhaji Kashim Imam, a former Presidential Liaison Officer, PLO to the Senate but now generally known to be in a working relationship with the APC controlled government in Borno State. Others were Senators Abubakar Saraki and Abdullahi Adamu, Danjuma Goje immediate past governors of Kwara, Nasarawa and Gombe States, former governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timipre Sylva, Senator Aisha Alhassan and the factional national secretary of the PDP and former governor of Osun State, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

Also at the meeting were Chief Sam Sam Jaja, the deputy national chairman of the nPDP, former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni and the national vice chairman of the PDP, Northwest, Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure. The police intervention came in the wings of recent efforts by the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC to woo the five rebel governors into their fold.

The interim national chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande had alongside the main hierarchy of the opposition party including Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Alhaji Lai Mohammed among many others had in the last week made visits to the governors of Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa and Adamawa towards wooing them to join the opposition party.

Before the Sunday face-off with the police in Abuja, the APC leadership had converged in Abuja preparatory for their next scheduled visit which was to Governor Amaechi in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State. However, the developments that Sunday night it was learnt, compelled the governors to change plans.

The governors it was learnt took the decision that night to resume their visits to the country’s elder-statesmen. They had in the last two months made visits to former civilian and military leaders of the country and other elder-statesmen as a way of intimating them of the situation they were passing through.

Among those visited were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Abdulsalami, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma among others. Following the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan the governors had called off the visits to the elder-statesmen and agreed to dialogue with the mainstream of the PDP led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.

The dialogue has, however, been suspended apparently by the Tukur PDP on the basis of court victories won on the legitimacy of the Tukur leadership. The G7 governors it was learnt are, however, stuck on how to proceed with some of them apparently determined to leave the party immediately. Governor Nyako of Adamawa State has all but left the party and is not making any pretence of the fact that his followers have joined the APC.

Besides Governor Amaechi, Nyako has been the most brutalized of the G7 governors, given the complete withdrawal of the party structures from him. Sources close to the governor do not hide the governor’s feelings of exasperation with the PDP and to some extent the dithering procrastination of some of his colleagues in the G7 to further negotiate with the PDP mainstream.

Governor Lamido on the other hand has continuously stressed his determination not to leave the party. Lamido’s reasons are clear to some of the founding fathers of the party. Governor Lamido was one of the nine persons who brought the idea of forming a national party like the PDP in 1998 just weeks after General Sanni Abacha died in 1998.

The governor has repeatedly stressed that he is not inclined to leave the house he built for others.

President Obasanjo who has largely been regarded as a father figure to all the G7 governors with the notable exception of Amaechi, and has helped to guide their agitation it was learnt, is however, not happy with the romance between them and the APC.

The reasons for Obasanjo’s apparent opposition are not far fetched. Obasanjo continues to regard Tinubu as a major foe and would not be inclined towards losing his protégées to him.

It was thus not surprising that the day after their meeting was interrupted that the G7 governors decided to resume their legwork with the elder-statesmen on the issues, starting with Obasanjo. Celebratory mood The meeting with Obasanjo last Monday interrupted the visit of the APC leaders to Amaechi earlier scheduled for the same Monday.

Against the background  of the alleged misgivings of the romance between the G7 and the APC it was not surprising that when the governors came out from the meeting with Obasanjo that they pledged their continued faithfulness to the PDP.

When yesterday the APC leadership eventually arrived Port-Harcourt to woo Amaechi, the embattled governor was in celebratory mood as a large crowd of supporters joined him to welcome the APC leadership.

His speech to the crowd at the joint rally with the APC leadership that included Buhari and Tinubu was also moving and indicative of the governors’ difficult journey through the valley of decision. “I am peculiar in the group of the seven governors.

The President comes from our zone.  I will consult our leaders, the President; I will consult you, (supporters), I will consult all consultable. I will come back to you. The day we shall take a decision it will be at the new stadium that can take 40,000 persons.

If we are staying (remaining in PDP), we shall call the President to the stadium to address us. If we are going, we shall call Tinubu and Buhari to come and address us”, he said reflective of the momentous decision awaiting him.