By Gboyega Akinsanmi
The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) yesterday defended the trip by six governors to Germany, describing it as a genuine quest to end the paucity of funds and grave economic crisis all the states in the federation “are currently going through.”
The NGF, also, said the three-day trip was designed to discuss areas of partnership and cooperation with a select group of German technocrats and investors with a view to seeking other options for economic partnership.
The forum explained reasons for the trip in a statement by its Head of Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, noting that the trip was to work out antidote to the over-dependence of states on oil which consigned Nigeria to a mono-product economy.
A human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), had criticised earlier the plan of the forum to send a team of six governors to Germany, describing it as a ploy by the governors to embark on a jamboree
The human rights lawyer had, also, described the proposed trip as frivolous, thereby appealed to the German government to deny them visas.
Falana added that the trip was a decoy for a summer holiday that would amount to further waste of the scarce resources of their states at a time the nation was said to be broke.
He explained that there was no justification for the trip, insisting that there were enough solutions within to the problems of the country, which according to him, the governors are not attending to.
But in a statement yesterday, the NGF said nothing could be farther from the truth than the lawyer’s postulations because it was obvious that the real essence of the trip had not been explained to the lawyer since he was reacting to a story whose content had not even fully reached the reporter that was asking Falana questions.
The forum, therefore, said the six governors “are embarking on a 3-day trip to Germany to discuss areas of partnership and cooperation with a select group of German technocrats and investors with a view to seeking other options for economic partnership, against their over-dependence on oil which has consigned the country to a mono-product economy.”
He added that six of them were going on behalf of other governors in order to assimilate the true import of the presentation by the German Ambassador and work out ways of domesticating the advantages.
He said partnerships they “are seeking will cover such non-oil sectors as agriculture, health, renewable energy and vocational training institutions that could employ our teeming unemployed and jobless youths.
“It is important to note that nobody feels the pinch of the current economic downturn more than the various state governors who are now working assiduously to ease the hardship that the average Nigerian is going through.
“The trip that is being embarked upon is as Spartan as possible as no governor is traveling with more than an aide who is also responsible for the area of need as it relates to their region and they will be visiting several industrial installations, vocational training centers and theme-parks to get a firsthand feel of how they are organized so as to replicate same in their domains.
“Suffice it to also state that this is a trip that is intended to bring added value to the running of states rather than waste scarce resources, as the respected lawyer had thought,” the forum explained.
It pointed out that governors like other Nigerians were also feeling the deep heat arising from the paucity of funds and dire straits that the nation “is currently going through and are just as concerned, while they are putting in their best to get the nation out of the doldrums.”
It clarified that those who elected them need “to accompany the confidence they repose in them with their votes with some vestiges of trust and not completely deny them the benefit of the doubt, no matter how well-meaning their intentions are, the result of which will be a win-win situation for us all.”