By Chuks Okocha
State governors under the aegis of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum (PDP-GF) have vowed to checkmate the perceived excesses of the federal government that they say violate the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
This was part of the outcome of a virtual meeting of the forum presided over by its Chairman and Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
According to the communiqué of the meeting held on Saturday, which was read by Tambuwal, the governors have also set up two committees on the activities of the National Assembly, especially as it regards the ongoing constitution, local governments and Electoral Act amendments.
To checkmate the excesses of the federal government, the forum has set up a five-man legal committee under the chairmanship of Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, which is “expected to explore various infractions of the constitution by the federal government, including the arbitrary and illegal deductions from the Federation Account.”
The forum also set up a five-man Legislative Liaison Committee to be led by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.
The secretary of the two committees is the Director-General of the PDP-GF, Hon. CID Maduabum.
The Wike-led committee, which has Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Chief Darius Ishaku (Taraba), and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) as members, is also expected to identify and coordinate legal matters affecting the forum as well as guide it on local government, inter-state and federal government relations.
According to the communiqué, the Mohammed-led Legislative Liaison Committee, which has Governors Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Senator Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) as members is expected to liaise with both the national and state legislatures on legislative matters.
It is also expected to guide the forum on pending bills, including the Electoral Act amendment and constitution review matter as it affects the forum.
The PDP governors also called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and ancillary electoral agencies to be impartial in the conduct of the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo States billed for September and October respectively.
Other resolutions of the meeting were the call for inclusiveness in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the communiqué, the governors appealed to Buhari, INEC and other agencies that would be involved in the forthcoming elections to play an impartial role, while urging PDP supporters to stay vigilant and ensure that all votes are counted and count.
While formally welcoming the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, into its fold, the forum resolved to lend its complete and total support to the PDP in Edo State in order for it to emerge victorious in the forthcoming governorship election.
It also congratulated Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), on his emergence as the flag bearer of the PDP in the October gubernatorial election in Ondo State, resolving to support him and the party to recover Ondo State for the PDP in the election.
The meeting also reviewed the various congresses held by the party in all states of the federation and resolved to continue to support the party at all levels to enthrone internal democracy and consequently good governance in the states the party is in control and all the states of the federation.
Appreciating the roles played by the leadership of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in the way and manner it conducted primaries in Edo and Ondo States and the generally rancour-free congresses in many states of the federation, the PDP governors urged the party to continue to deploy conflict resolution mechanisms to resolve any dispute.
The meeting was attended by the governors of Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara States.
Also at the meeting were the Deputy Governors of Ebonyi State, Mr. Eric Kelechi, and Maduabum.
PDP Entitled to its Opinion, Says DG, Progressive Governors
However, the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, has said that the decision of the PDP Governors Forum to set up both Legal and Legislative committees was not worth responding to, explaining that the opposition party was entitled to its opinion.
Lukman while speaking with THISDAY in a telephone interview yesterday, said the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not have to respond to everything because it’s the ruling party.
According to him, “Why should we react to such a thing? They said this is what they want to do, we should stop them? I don’t really know the way to go, they are doing their own, and we are doing our own. Where there is disagreement, we will settle it out politically. I don’t think it is a matter worth responding to.
Lukman said with time, it would be known if the intention of the PDP was for the public good or not, but insisted that it is within their rights.
He stated: “If they are setting up a committee, is it about infractions? No! You are getting it wrong. We are not in a perfect set up. They have their perception, we have our own perception. Democracy is about negotiations, they (PDP) are free to say this is what they want, just like we are free to say this is what we want.”
The director-general emphasised that at the end of the day, if there are contesting issues, it would be negotiated politically.
Lukman added: “I don’t think because they met and came up with a resolution we have to react.
My understanding about democracy is that it is about interest and everybody is free to say this is what he or she wants and I think that is what PDP had said. But we allow them; let the issue manifest itself first, then we will determine whether is for public good or not for the public good.
“So long as it is a statement of intent, I don’t think it is a matter we should begin to think there are infractions here and there.”