Governors’ forum split threatens Northern unity, security

Posted by News Express | 23 August 2020 | 986 times

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•NEGF Protem Chairman, Prof. Zulum

The recent formation of North East Governors’ Forum (NEGF) and subsequent selection of Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum as its protem chairman have continued to stir debates and discussions among stakeholders, especially in Northern Nigeria.

Soon after the forum held its second quarterly meeting in Maiduguri, which was designated for the NEGF administrative headquarters, opinions as to the possible effect of the move on the unity of the north, its political future and aspirations and other spheres, became rife.

While some opinion leaders contend that the split points to the failure of governance at both the federal and state government levels in the country, other stakeholders in the region believed that the new forum would ensure proactive policies, help in tackling insecurity and enhance peer reviews and shared experiences among the governors.

On another hand, some political actors expressed the fear that the split of the once united Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) would negatively impact on the unity and socio-economic situation of the region.

A source told The Guardian that the subdivision might be a political strategy for the zone’s 2023 presidential aspiration and revolt against Simon Bako Lalong’s leadership of NSGF.

The Guardian was unable to get Governor Lalong’s reaction to the establishment of NEGF as at the time of going to press, but State House source in the Plateau State said there was nothing special with the development.

He noted that just as it obtains in the Southern part of the country, there is also a North Central Governors’ Forum, stressing that Governor Lalong continues to provide seamless leadership to the NSGF.

Second Republic federal lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has however, described the creation of NEGF as “nothing but an unwise political move that will serve no useful purpose.”

Dr. Mohammed remarked that the problem of the northeast is first and foremost insecurity, followed by bad governance associated with collapsed economy, contending that what is required are honest and credible analyses of the situation and action.

Dismissing the subdivision of the NSGF as inconsequential, the former lawmaker stated: “In fact, if you look at economic history, the Northeast is the poorest of the so-called zones. It is also the worst governed. And this did not start today or with the Buhari administration. It has been like that for a very long time. So, I cannot see how creating the Northeast Governors’ Forum will improve the situation for them or for the people concerned.

“Recall that about one month ago, the governor of Borno State, which is the preeminent state economically, culturally and otherwise in the northeast, was attacked and the attack was done with soldiers under General (Tukur) Buratai. Perhaps, you don’t know that Buratai is from Southern Borno State and he is politically ambitious. And we are aware that some of the generals went and purchased forms to contest elections in two of the states during the last general elections in 2015.”

Mohammed recalled how Governor Zulum, in a statement, attacked the army and the Federal Government for the cavalier handling of the security in the northeast, and for the way they have allowed people, civilians to be attacked recklessly.

“So, it is not surprising. But if President Buhari, in his wisdom or lack of it, decides to either ignore or encourage them to create what they call northeast governors forum, I don’t think that would solve any problem. The responsibility of any government is to maintain law and order and the protection of lives and dignity of the people. If that were not done, no amount of creation of Governors’ Forum, or Muslim Forum or Christian Forum would solve the problem.

“The problem is directly related to bad governance and incompetence at the highest level. Of course, the federal and state governments have been unable to honestly and correctly analyse the problem and make sure they have a solution. I am not bothered about that at all,” he noted.

However, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Army, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, faulted insinuations in certain quarters that the newly formed North East Governors Forum would not be in the best interest of the entire northern region.

Namdas, who is also a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa State, contended that the sub-regional forum was required to address the multifaceted problems bedeviling the North East geopolitical zone.

He said: “I think it is not intended to disrupt northern unity. We have come to agree that we have six regions and so regions can come together to tackle their challenges together. When the South West decided to organise and come up with Amotekun, they did so because it was in the best interest of their region.

“So, there is nothing wrong in having the North East Governors Forum to also come up with similar solution. But, again, they are conscious of the fact that there is a general Northern States Governors Forum headed by Simon Lalong.”

Namdas explained that even in the National Assembly, “there is the North East legislators’ caucus as well as Northern Legislators’ Forum,” stressing that instead of seeing it as a division, stakeholders should note that it is easier to solve regional problems when you have such a group.

 

 

•Excerpted from a Guardian report.

 


Source: News Express

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