The crisis tearing apart the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, may have finally crept to the Northern States Governors Forum as Malam Isa Yuguda of Bauchi has declared he will no longer participate in its meetings until anyone of his colleagues publicly admits that they breached the agreement to adopt Da Jonah Jang as the consensus Northern candidate for chairman of the NGF.
Yuguda, who was speaking weekend in Abuja, also said he will demand an explanation from the Northern governor that admits that he breached a solemn regional pact.
The NGF is currently embroiled in a bitter leadership tussle as both Governors Rotimi Amaechi and Jonah Jang are claiming the spoils from the May 24 election that has split the once united and powerful Forum down the middle.
However, Governor Yuguda, a pro-Jang supporter, said, “I don’t see any reason why I should attend the Northern Governors meeting again. Yes! If that is what we will do, I am not going to be a part of it. For the remaining two years of my tenure I will not be part of the Northern Governors Forum. I want any Northern Governor to come out and say yes, I voted [at the NGF election] and I voted against Jang. I will then ask him why, after sitting with me in the Northern governors meeting and agreeing on a consensus candidate, after saying Shema and I should withdraw for Jang, he then went and voted against Jang. I would like to know why.”
Yuguda took his time to narrate the events leading up to the May 24 episode that finally sounded the death knell of the Forum.
In his words: “There is no faction in the governors’ forum. We have a new leadership that has emerged in line with the procedures that were historically adopted for coming up with its leader. The drama that ensued at the forum was a deliberate attempt to divide the governors and also targeted towards destroying PDP. I say so because in all the leadership changes since the forum was initiated by our predecessors in 1999 elections were never held.”
The one-time Aviation Minister continued, “The reason why the leader is always chosen by consensus is because elections will bring disunity. When Saraki was about to leave office in 2011, I was one of the 13 governors in Ilorin that picked Rotimi Amaechi through consensus. Goje proposed him, I seconded. In the same spirit we gave him all the support and we appointed a committee to draft a constitution for the forum as we saw at the American Governors Association.
“The constitution was drafted by Fashola, Suswam, Chime, Imoke and Namadi Sambo. In the draft they made, we provided for rotation between North and South, in addition to the gentleman’s agreement that already existed. I was personally shocked that some people wanted to breach this tradition. Anything short of following the tradition will break us, which is not good for the country’s unity and the common positions that we adopt at the National Economic Council, NEC.
“So when they proposed elections we said no, there cannot be elections which was why 19 of us signed that there has to be consensus because that is what will unite us. In line with that position, the Northern governors met at 11am on Friday May 24. Only the Jigawa and Yobe governors were not present. Chief Servant brought a one item agenda, picking a consensus candidate because the seat belongs to the North.
“Governor Shema and I had indicated interest. When the meeting started the two of us were requested to go out. So we left and stayed out for about 20 minutes before we were called back in. The chairman then announced to us that ‘we decided to drop the two of you and our consensus candidate is Jonah Jang.’ Both of us said fine, since that is the consensus we bless it.
“So we fully expect that all the Northern Governors will stand by the consensus choice. After Friday prayers we moved to the PDP Governors’ Forum. 15 out of the 19 Northern Governors including our chairman are PDP members.
“When we got to PDP Governors Forum, our chairman [Babangida Aliyu] reported to chairman of PDP Governors Forum that we met and adopted Da Jonah Jang as our consensus candidate. There was no dissenting voice from South East or South South since the slot belongs to us. So they all blessed it and gave Shema and I a standing ovation for withdrawing for Jang.
“By 4pm we were at the venue of NGF meeting. Immediately we entered there was rancour. This one will say this, this one will say that. By my own culture, background and religion, I strongly believe that whatever is agreed upon, we must stand by it unless it is illegal. I thought just like our chairman reported to PDP Governors, I expected a similar report to be made to the Nigeria Governors Forum but that was not done, maybe due to the rowdy atmosphere. This one will say election, bring the ballot boxes, this one will say no election.
“I expected common sense, rationality and fear of God to prevail. I expected Amaechi, as an honourable governor who has chaired the forum for two years with the understanding that he was going to leave after 2 years and he knows the implication of voting, which was why majority said no voting which can cause division in the country. It was a calculated attempt to break the country’s unity and to break PDP. He had perfected his plan in his own lodge, the ballot boxes and ballot papers were in his own lodge and he refused to agree that there should be no election.”
Yuguda also absolved President Goodluck Jonathan of the crisis rocking the Forum as he explained thus, “Before the president left for Addis Ababa, only 2 of us were challenging Amaechi.
“He didn’t have the faintest idea about Jang’s candidacy. Jang himself returned from abroad a day before and he arrived Abuja Friday morning and went straight to the Northern Governors meeting. He hadn’t an idea what was happening. He never told anyone that he was interested in the chairmanship. How could he be Jonathan’s candidate? President Jonathan couldn’t have in any way been responsible for the consensus candidature of Jonah Jang, so please count him out of this.”
Culled From DAILY TRUST