Second Republic president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari
•Tukur: Governors are overheating the polity
By Chuks Okocha and Mohammed Aminu
There is no letting up by some governors from the northern part of the country to alter the political equation in 2015, as four governors from the region yesterday held a closed-door meeting in Sokoto with Second Republic president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, that lasted for over an hour.
The four governors – Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabi'u Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa) – have in recent weeks travelled round the country meeting with elder statesmen on the 2015 general election and seeking for intervention in the crisis in Rivers State.
The governors, like several socio-political organisations in the north, are opposed to President Goodluck Jonathan’s undeclared quest to seek re-election in 2015 and are pushing for the presidency to return to the north.
The Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, who was also expected at the meeting, was absent as he was said to have travelled to Suadi Arabia for the lesser Hajj.
However, their meeting coincided with a statement by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who expressed the view that the consultations of the northern governors was in breach of the reconciliation efforts of the party and inadvertently overheating the polity, just as he charged them to submit to the party’s authority.
The four governors, who were accompanied by the PDP National Vice-Chairman, north-west, Ambassador Ibrahim Musa Kazaure, arrived the residence of the former president around 12 noon in the Sama area of the Sokoto metropolis.
At the end of the meeting, Shagari declined to comment on the outcome of the talks, but thanked the governors for the visit.
But THISDAY gathered that the meeting may not be unconnected with the region's quest to produce the next president come 2015.
Speaking with journalists at the Sultan Abubakar International Airport Sokoto, Nyako said they were at the residence of the former president as part of their consultations with prominent northern leaders.
Nyako denied that the visit had anything to do with the politics of 2015, stressing that the visit was borne out of their concern for the current events in the country.
He maintained that the visit was meant to seek Shagari’s fatherly advice on the way out of the problems plaguing the country, especially the challenges of Boko Haram insurgency, poverty, political tensions as well as dwindling national economy.
“We were in Shagari's residence to consult with him and seek his fatherly advice with a view to finding plausible solutions to the current political tension in the country, especially the issue of poverty, insecurity and the dwindling national economy.
“This meeting has nothing to do with the politics of 2015 but to consult with our leaders in order to chart a way forward to tackle the ugly trends.
“So we are seeking for Shagari's intervention in order to reduce the tensions overheating the polity and work towards promoting unity, dialogue and mutual understanding in the country,” Nyako maintained.
The governors, after the meeting with the former president, departed Sokoto in a charted aircraft around 1.30 pm.
However, the governors, who during their meeting with Jonathan at the weekend, had given the sack of Tukur as one of the conditions for peace in the party, were accused by the PDP national chairman of trying to put themselves beyond the discipline of the party and were urged to submit themselves to the party and stop overheating the polity.
Tukur, in his reaction to the governors’ insistence on his ouster, asked them (PDP governors) to submit their grievances to the party’s committee on reconciliation and avoid using the mantra of freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the constitution, to overheat the polity.
According to a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the PDP national chairman, Oliver Okpala, Tukur said: “It is also important to emphasise that the PDP, as a political platform upon which the governors were elected, has avenues and an internal mechanism for resolution of conflicts and grievances.
“The governors are therefore advised as party men to avail themselves of these avenues before seeking audience or making public utterances capable of overheating the polity.”
According to the statement, the actions of the five northern governors are antithetical to the reconciliation within the party, adding, “More importantly, the PDP has a reconciliation committee entrusted with the task of conflict resolution in the party.”
Tukur, in the statement added: “The governors by their action and utterances have shown contempt for this committee by not deeming it necessary or worthy to take their grievances to the reconciliation committee.
“One would have expected the governors to express their grievances privately to the party leadership or the reconciliation committee instead of going public with their grievances before seeking audience with other Nigerian leaders.
“There is no doubt that the governors’ peripatetic vision has contributed in no small measure to overheating the polity.”
The statement observed that inasmuch as the constitution guarantees certain fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of speech and assembly, there are constitutional limitations to this freedom, adding, “The leaders should show wisdom, caution, prudence and good counsel in their comments on national issues as their unguided utterances and calls can cause unnecessary political tension.”
It further advised the northern governors that in exercising their freedom to express themselves, they were expected to make comments with decorum, humility and caution.
“As leaders whom the general public look upon as role models, they are expected to show respect to constituted authority and the elders which include Alhaji Dr. Bamanga Tukur who have contributed immensely to the peace, progress, development and advancement of this country,” it said.
The statement said Tukur had tried several times as the national chairman of PDP to bring peace, tranquillity and love to the party, explaining that Tukur’s three cardinal policies of Reconciliation, Reformation and Rebuilding are aimed at giving all members of the party a sense of belonging.