Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
With the election of Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), the political calculations in the South-west could begin to change.
As it happened in the past, governors who had chaired the NGF had used the office to position themselves for relevance in the polity.
Former Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki and former Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who both chaired the NGF, had used the platform to position themselves for more relevance in the current political dispensation.
Saraki, who left the Kwara Government House for the Senate, subsequently became the Senate president while Amaechi emerged as the Director-General of Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015 and a powerful cabinet member in the outgoing administration.
So, with Fayemi’s emergence now, given his education and skill, he is likely to be in contention for South-west leadership between now, 2023 and beyond; given that he is young and could be in pole position with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
He is the youngest among former Lagos State Governor, Chief Bola Tinubu, now a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Osinbajo.
And being elected governor for eight years, by the time he finishes his second term in office, he is in a strong position should he wish to even run for the presidency in 2023. This has made him a politician to watch.
Meanwhile, Fayemi has vowed that political considerations would not make him sacrifice national interest as NGF chair.
He said his leadership would address all issues that come its way “as amicably as possible in the overall interest” of the country.
Fayemi, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, said he was ready to build on the commitment of his predecessors by ensuring that states have a strong partnership with the federal government.
According to him, his election as the chairman of NGF and that of Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, as deputy chairman showed that the NGF represents Nigeria regardless of political persuasion.
Fayemi said: “My colleague, Tambuwal, and I are delighted at the choice made by our colleagues this evening through consensus. With the confidence reposed in us and in accepting this onerous responsibility that has been handed over to us, we promise our colleagues that we will step into the big shoes that Governor Yari will be leaving behind. We will build on the success story of this forum right from Governor Abdulahi Adamu to Governors Victor Attah, Lucky Igbinedion, Bukola Saraki, among others.
“We will build on this commitment with strong partnership with the federal government as federating unit and thrash out issues as amicably as possible in the overall interest of our country.
“This is something that all parties of different persuasions have done and as you can see, the leadership comprises I from the majority ruling party and Tambuwal from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). What is most important is that this is unanimously chosen and we represent Nigeria regardless of our political persuasions.
“What we are going to do will be in the overall interest of our country in ensuring that our states are continuously strengthened; our country derives the benefit of strong dedicated states to our citizens and our partnership with all arms of government-federal government, the legislature and the development partners working with us in the overall interest of Nigerians.”
The statement came just as goodwill messages poured in for Fayemi on his election as the NGF chair.
President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, congratulated Fayemi on his emergence as Chairman of NGF.
The president said Fayemi’s choice by consensus indicated the degree of confidence in him by his colleagues.
He urged the new chairman to see the election as a unique opportunity to forge a harmonious and fruitful working relationship with the federal government and other tiers of government.
“The focal objective of the NGF at all times ought to be the higher interest of the people of this country above partisan, political, religious or regional differences,” he said.
Buhari said the federal government would continue to support the Forum in its laudable objectives.
Also, Fayemi’s predecessor as governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, in a statement by his Media Aide, Lere Olayinka, said the governor’s emergence as NGF chairman was well deserved to him and the people of the state.
Fayose said: “I congratulate Fayemi on his appointment and elevation as the chairman of the NGF.
“It is well deserved for you and the entire people of Ekiti State. Politics will come and go, but Ekiti State will remain eternal.”
An APC chieftain, Dr. Olusegun Osinkolu, while congratulating Fayemi, advised him to use the highly influential status to ensure that there is equity and justice in the distribution of the country’s wealth.
Another APC chieftain, Kayode Ojo, urged Fayemi to take actions that would not heat up the polity but bring development.