Choice of Gbenga Daniel Splits Governors’ Forum

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) may have been embroiled in a crisis of succession as governors elected on the platforms of some other parties have kicked against the appointment of Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State as the new NGF chairman.

Also, the Secretariat of the NGF has dissociated itself from Daniel’s appointment.But it has emerged that the battle for the chairmanship of NGF has become another front for the struggle for the PDP presidential ticket.Daniel was said to have been picked at a meeting of PDP governors held in Abuja last Friday. The Ogun State governor is an ally of President Goodluck Jonathan and in fact he is the president’s coordinator in the South-west zone.

Two governors, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State, who is from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, said they were not aware of Daniel’s appointment. Oshiomhole is of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

A statement by Shekarau’s media aide, Malam Sule Ya’u Sule, said the government and people of Kano State were not consulted before the decision was taken.

The three-paragraph statement read: “Kano State Governor Malam Ibrahim Shekarau has dissociated himself from the purported appointment of Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State as the new Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s forum.

“To the best of His Excellency’s knowledge there was never a meeting where a decision to appoint a new chairman of the forum was reached.

“A situation where some few PDP Governors could sit and take a decision on behalf of 36 Governors is not acceptable, more so the forum is not only for PDP governors but all governors including those from other political parties as such it is a non-partisan forum.

“Governor Ibrahim Shekarau therefore recognizes only Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State as the chairman of the forum.”
Oshiomhole, who spoke at a news conference in Benin City, said the media report on Daniel’s election was embarrassing and unfair, explaining that he was taken aback by the news.

He disclosed that the out-going chairman, Saraki, had called a meeting of the forum for Wednesday (November 3), saying part of the agenda for the meeting was the election of a new chairman for the forum.

“I have since checked out and I can confirm as a matter of fact that there was no meeting of the Governors’ Forum. The Governors’ Forum is going to meet on Wednesday, however some Peoples Democratic Party governors met at a venue that was never a venue of our meeting at Governor Gbenga Daniel’s lodge and it was at that forum that they are now claiming to represent the Governors’ Forum,” he said.

Oshiomhole, who explained that any governor could aspire to the position, however noted that, “anyone who nurses such position should be ready to persuade other governors to accept him”.

Expressing disappointment at the attitude of the governors, Comrade Oshiomhole said: “If a forum of 36 governors cannot freely choose a chairman of the Governors’ Forum, then we cannot be talking about a free and fair election in 2011.

“If governors will seek to outsmart each other and manipulate a process that is fairly simple and straightforward, how can we expect that as leaders we are all committed to genuine electoral reforms?”
The Edo State governor therefore advised any state governor interested in the chairmanship of the Governors’ Forum to take the right channel instead of passing through the back door.

“Whatever the governors do, make several statements about their commitment to democratic norms and values,” he said.
The Secretariat of the Governors’ Forum has said NGF is a non-partisan association and that there is a distinction between the PDP Governors’ Forum and NGF.

Director-General of the NGF Secretariat, Asishana Okauru, said in a press release last night: “The attention of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Secretariat has been drawn to the news report (NTA 9pm Network News on Saturday, October 30, 2010) announcing the election of a new Chairman for the PDP Governors’ Forum.
“This has created some confusion in the public on the distinction between the PDP Governors’ Forum and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.

”We wish to inform the public that the NGF is a non-partisan forum for all elected governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria regardless of party affiliation.
“A meeting of the NGF has been scheduled to cover amongst other things brief by the outgoing Chairman, HE. Dr. Bukola Saraki, and election of a new leadership.

“The outcome of the election will be duly communicated to the public once concluded.”
But in another statement on behalf of the outgoing chairman of NGF, Saraki, Okauru, said Saraki had assured all members of the forum that the laid down rules and principles would be followed in the appointment of his successor.

“The attention of His Excellency, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), has been drawn to reports in some national newspapers, today October 31st, 2010 that the Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has been selected as the new Chairman of the NGF.

“Since the reports, Dr. Saraki has received complaints from several state governors who have denied any knowledge of, or involvement in the action. They argued that the meeting where the action was taken was not convened in accordance with the laid down procedures that have been followed over the years. They therefore see this development as inimical to the internal democratic process, the culture of inclusiveness and consensus on which the NGF was built, and on which it has operated.

“Dr. Saraki wishes to note that due process and strict adherence to laid down procedures are paramount in any democratic institution. He assures all members of the NGF and the Nigerian public that these principles will be followed in this case.

“Therefore, in keeping with the desire of majority of NGF members, he calls on the general public to disregard the said newspaper reports; saying that a meeting has been called where a decision will be taken on the issue of leadership of the NGF in keeping with the laid down procedures of the forum.

“Dr. Saraki wishes to note further that the strength of the NGF, which has played key roles in resolving some important political challenges in our country in recent years despite its varied membership, depends on the sense of belonging and inclusiveness that it is able to give to all its members.
“And for the NGF to continue to play this critical role in the politics and governance of this country in the future, its leadership must be positioned to readily inspire the confidence of all its members and be seen to be guided by laid down standards of democratic practice,” it said.

Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswan had told journalists after PDP Governors’ meeting on Friday that Daniel was chosen as NGF new chairman due to his exemplary leadership qualities, track record and experience as a second term governor.

He said Daniel was unanimously elected by consensus of all the members of the forum and had been mandated to coordinate the forum’s activities and ensure that it responds to national issues as appropriate.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State also said the selection of Daniel was based purely on his performance as a capable administrator with outstanding qualities.

Source: Thisday Newspapers – www.thisdayonline.com

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