Nigerian Governors Forum Director General, Bayo Okauru
By Chuks Okocha
The Nigerian Governors Forum has maintained that its existence is not a threat to the stability of the country, stating that they were more interested in policy review programmes among themselves for overall development.
The position of the Forum was expressed by its Director General, Bayo Okauru, who insisted that governors in the country play a role that strengthens democracy as they have a secretariat where policies and issues are analysed to enable reasoned positions to be taken.
The Forum’s response was in reaction to a comment by prominent Ijaw leader and former federal commissioner for information, Chief Edwin Clark, who had criticised the Forum and dubbed it an agent of destabilization.
The Forum’s response came as the Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, also condemned the verbal attack on the Forum by Clark, describing it as unfortunate.
Also, the Special Adviser to the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Governors and Governance, Osaro Onaiwu, dismissed the position of the elder statesman as an attempt to pit the President against the Governors Forum, describing it as unnecessary.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY, the Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema, said in reaction to Chief Clark’s comments that the governors are threats to stability and democracy in Nigeria: “Somehow, I have my doubts about the publication in the media. I am not sure that Chief E.K. Clark was quoted rightly. If he was quoted rightly, it is not beyond PDP and Nigerians to sit down and resolve crisis, if and when there is any.”
Onaiwu while responding to Clark’s position on the Governors Forum decried his comments on the PDP governors, stating, “there is no need to knock heads together as what is happening. There is no problem within the PDP and its governors that cannot be resolved. The governors of PDP mobilized the delegates for the election of President Jonathan to emerge as the PDP Presidential candidate in January 2011.
“The President needs the governors to succeed in ensuring a peaceful governance of the states. The President and the PDP governors in the first place are in a symbiotic relationship that requires each other at all times.”
He explained that it would not be fair in the first place to describe the PDP governors or the governors in general as agents of destabilization or threats to democracy in Nigeria, pointing out that, “instead of seeing the governors as threats, it is better to see them as partners in progress”.
Meanwhile, the Governors will on Monday meet to resolve the controversy over alleged unauthorized withdrawals from the Federal Allocation and Accounts Committee (FAAC) by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, the constitution review and the governors’ litigation against the federal government at the Supreme Court.
Other items on the Monday night meeting include a meeting with the World Bank Vice President, feedback from consultations on the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Review of Proposed Amendments).
The country’s security situation would also be a major subject for discourse at the Monday meeting of the governors.
According to a statement by the Director General of the Governors’ Forum, other issues contained in the agenda include: "Update on the Peer Review Exercise, review of polio eradication initiative; update on security challenges, committees in retrospect, formulating a 2013 agenda, priority issues, funding implications and budget."