The controversial election of a chairman for the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) continues to take its toll on other groups as more cracks have been noticed in the Northern States Governors Forum. (NSGF).
Three of the Nineteen-governor group shunned a meeting scheduled for Kaduna on Thursday despite the crucial nature of that meeting, fuelling speculations that the three, who did not even send any representatives may be opting out.
Governors Issa Yuguda of Bauchi; Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State and GIbrahim Geidam of Yobe State were absent at Thursdays meeting that had only five of their counterparts in the group in attendance. Yuguda and Shema are believed to have played prominent roles in NGF election, the result of which is still contested by Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang.
The alleged failure of either Yuguda or Shema to step down for each other was said to have led to the choice of Jang as the Northern governors’ consensus candidate.
In what many interpreted as a sign of disaffection within that group, the meeting held at the Gen. Hassan Katsina House, Kaduna had eleven other governors represented by either their deputies or their secretaries to the state governments.
While many saw the relatively poor turnout as a sign of disaffection, Chairman of the Forum, and Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, said the fact that most of the governors sent their deputies showed that they were adequately represented.
“If I send my deputy to a place whether I like it or not whatever decision is taken there is part of my decision and I have been saying it loud and clear that if I die today before I am even buried, my deputy will be sworn in. “We have had an example in Kaduna State. So sending a deputy did not reduce the level or the importance of any decision taken there,” he said.
According to Aliyu, most of the governors were opposed to the proposed banning of the Almajiri system of education in the region where children of school age roam the streets in quest of Islamic education.
“The forum further expressed concern over the economic problems facing the nation, especially the North and resolved to have an economic plan that would form the basis for the economic development of the North,” he added.
On the disputed NGF election, Aliyu said, “I am speaking to you as the chairman of the NSGF (Northern State Governors Forum) and if you want my view, I will tell you we had an election.”
He said, “If I am to tell you what led to the problem in the NGF, we will stay here till tomorrow; so I have no intention of doing that. I will only tell you that in whatever process of election or whatever, there may be one person or two that will be aggrieved.
“We seem to be developing a culture where when you prepare for an election, you must also prepare to contest in court. As I am speaking to you as the chairman of NSGF, if you want my view, I will tell you we had an election; we have a problem and we will solve it.”
He noted the threat by Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda never to attend the meeting of the NSGF but said it was unfortunate that politicians want to win elections at all cost.
In his own reaction though, Yuguda accused NSGF of being responsible for the crisis within the influential NGF. In protest at what he termed unprincipled politics, he had announced his withdrawal from the on Sunday.
He had also called on other governors from the North to honour an agreement to support Jang during the controversial NGF election held on May 24.