- Category: Politics
- Published on Thursday, 04 November 2010 08:16
- Written by The Nation
- Hits: 1153
Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel’s bid to lead the Nigerian Governors’ Forum collapsed like a pack of cards last night. The Governors reaffirmed their confidence in the leadership of Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki.
Saraki will lead the Forum for the next three weeks when members will conduct a “proper democratic election” to elect a new chair.
Ten governors had on Saturday purportedly elected Daniel as chair of the forum. But many others rejected the move.
At last night’s meeting were 27 governors.
Investigation by The Nation showed that the governors decided to back Saraki to prove a point that the leadership of the Forum could not be imposed from outside.
A source said: “The governors resolved to stand by Saraki to show that they cannot be dictated to as regards when to elect a new chairman for the Forum.
“They also chose not to humiliate Saraki out of office because some partisan members were desperate to remove him.
“So, they rejected any form of ambush from any quarters. They did not recognise the purported election of Daniel as the chairman.
“As a matter of fact, they asked all those behind the purported choice of Daniel to apologise for their action.
Last night’s session started at about 8.30pm and ended around 10.50pm. It was, however, not without drama in view of the controversy the imposition of Daniel had caused.
As the governors were settling down in the inner recess of the Kwara Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro District, Daniel, who wore a black suit with a bow tie, sauntered.
As the Ogun State Governor made his way into the meeting, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State taunted him, saying, “Mr. Chairman, come and take over your seat as the chairman of the NGF”.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta added, “I think dem say na you be the chairman now, come sit down; abi you dey fear.
Amidst banters and a roar of laughter, Daniel said: ‘Ah! Ah! I no fit, I no fit.’
The Ogun State Governor settled for a different seat.
The warmth and camaraderie exhibited by the governors at the opening ceremony at about 8.30pm made all warring factions to sheathe their swords.
In his remarks at the closed door session, Saraki, reportedly asked the governors to rise above partisan politics in order not to erode the objectives of the Forum.
A source quoted Saraki as saying: “Our strength is in our cohesion and bond because of the strategic nature of this Forum.
“We should not allow partisan politics to split the institution that we all laboured to build.
“Let us remain as one because whatever office we are occupying will outlive all of us. Whatever we do while in office will remain a reference point of history.”
Shortly after his five-minute address, Saraki asked the NGF Secretariat staff to leave the chamber.
The governors went into the private session.
Those at the meeting came from 27 states. There were 22 governors and five deputy governors from Yobe, Oyo, Taraba, Katsina and Kano.
The 22 governors are: Modu Ali Sheriff (Borno); Mahmud Shinkafi (Zamfara); Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Aliyu Akwe Doma (Nasarawa); Adams Oshiomhole (Edo); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Babatunde Fashola (SAN)-(Lagos); and Babangida Aliyu (Niger).
Others are Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun); Jonah Jang (Plateau); Isa Yuguda (Bauchi); Aliyu Wammakko (Sokoto); Sullivan Chime (Enugu); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Patrick Yakowa (Kaduna); Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) and Gbenga Daniel (Ogun).
The plot to remove Saraki was hatched last Friday night in Abuja, shortly before the fund raising dinner for President Goodluck Jonathan at the International Conference Centre.
The fund raising event had hardly ended at about midnight when the PDP governors in attendance headed for the Presidential Villa to pay a visit to Jonathan.
After the midnight visit, the governors relocated to the Ogun State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja where Saraki was removed.
The spokesman of the 11 governors, Mr. Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, said Daniel had become the chairman of the NGF.
Suswam said Daniel was chosen “due to his exemplary leadership qualities and track record and experience as a second term governor.”
He explained that the choice of Daniel became imperative since “Saraki is contesting the presidential election in 2011.”
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State said Daniel “has what it takes to move the Forum forward.”
But Saraki said the “supposed election of Daniel by consensus” would not hold.
The stalemate led to last night’s emergency meeting.
‘I never asked for it' - Gbenga Daniel
Governor Gbenga Daniel yesterday said he never asked to lead the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF).
Daniel whose purported election as chair generated controversy, accused his governor colleagues of “playing politics” with the issue.
The governor made his remark during a session of the State Treasury Board Meeting/Budget Retreat at Valley View, Government House, Abeokuta.
He likened ”all that happened concerning the Governors Forum to ‘political abracadabra’
“I assure you all that I’ve not at any point in time asked to be the chairman of
Governors’ Forum. It’s my colleagues playing political game,” Daniel declared.
He submitted that what he had in his hands to handle at the state and being Southwest zonal Campaign Coordinator of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign were enormous enough.
“As you know, the chair of Governors’ Forum is not a salaried appointment. My
cup is full. I’m sorting out Ogun State matter and I’m also Jonathan’s
campaign coordinator in the Southwest,” he said.
He explained that the controversy that trailed his election was not unconnected with the Presidential election where he acknowledged his partisanship on the side of the President.