Posted by News Express | 22 August 2022 | 430 times
Things have badly fallen apart in the Southern Governors’ Forum, the association of 17 governors from the Southern part of the country, and the centre can no longer hold, Daily Independent has exclusively gathered.
The last time the forum met was over almost a year ago, precisely on September 16 2021 in Enugu. It had before then met at Ikeja, the Lagos State capital which was chosen as its permanent secretariat while its inaugural meeting was held in Asaba, the Delta State capital, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.
The 17 Southern governors from the South-South, South-West and South-Eastern parts of the country comprise nine governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seven governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and one governor of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
At the first meeting in Asaba, key decisions were taken concerning the security and welfare of the country such as ban on open grazing in all Southern states in a bid to provide a solution to the incessant herdsmen attacks, and advice to the Federal Government to convene a national dialogue to ensure greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements.
During the second meeting in Lagos, the Southern governors unanimously declared that Nigeria’s next president should come from the Southern part of the country. They also set a timeline of September 1, 2021, for promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in all 17-member states.
The first sign of trouble in the forum began in December, last year, when Cross Rivers Sstate governor, Ben Ayade, declared the position of the Southern Governors’ Forum on anti-grazing law as draconian, saying he will never be a party to it as herdsmen are his brother.
Ayade had said, “How would you as a nation declare illegitimate a legitimate trade of the people, the nomadic herdsmen. Even though Southern governors have made it very clear that all Southern governors must pass the anti-open grazing law, Cross River has not, I have not because I cannot ask my herdsmen brothers whether of Northern or Southern extraction to shut down their trade and stay confined to a place whether they have the pasture or not.”
The major issue that led to the collapse of the forum was the issue of the power rotation between the North and South.
Daily Independent gathered that while the Southern governors agreed that the South must produce the president, some of them backed Northerners.
Speaking with Daily Independent, a prominent leader from the South-South, one of the brains behind Southern governors coming together to meet and take positions on critical issues, admitted that the forum has collapsed.
According to him, even if any meeting is called today, majority of the governors will not turn up as they are not on the same page on several issues.
“Yes, the Southern Governors’ Forum has collapsed. Initially, they were able to do an inter-party arrangement before the presidential primaries that the South must produce the president. In the PDP, the South did not produce the president, the ticket was clinched by Atiku Abubakar while Nyesom Wike came second.
“Wike believes that some of his colleagues in the Southern Governors’ Forum betrayed their cause by supporting a Northerner underground. His camp is accusing Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, of funding Atiku’s campaign in the presidential primary. They also believe that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State worked for Atiku’s emergence.
“On the other hand, Wike can also be said to have betrayed the agenda of the Southern Governors’ Forum. This is because of his desperation to become a running mate to a Northern presidential candidate. The reason why Wike is fighting Atiku now is because he was not chosen as running mate.
“So, if he had been chosen by Atiku, he will be happy to be a running mate to a Northern presidential candidate which the Southern Governors’ Forum unanimously rejected. So, Wike is also guilty of what his camp is accusing Okowa, Obaseki and others of.
“In the APC, the Southern governors, especially in the South-West were also divided over the presidential ambition of some of the party leaders such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Kayode Fayemi and others. But unlike the PDP, the APC has managed to put its house in order and are working together to ensure victory for the party in the 2023 presidential election”. (Daily Independent)
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