NGF crisis: Yuguda, Shema, Geidam ignore Northern govs’ meeting

by Rachel Ogbu

Photo: Punch

It’s been reported that Governor Issa Yuguda of Bauchi; Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State and Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State did not attend the Northern Governors’ Forum crucial meeting in Kaduna and did not send any of the states’ officials to represent them either.

Clearly the issues in the NGF are yet to be resolved as it was said that only five of the 19-member body were there in person at the meeting on Thursday which took place at the Gen. Hassan Katsina House, Kaduna, while 11 of the governors sent either their deputies or their secretaries to the state governments.

According to reports, Yuguda and Shema had played prominent roles in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum election penultimate Friday, where Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, defeated Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang by 19 to 16 votes. It was reported that the failure of either Yuguda or Shema to step down for each other led to the choice of Jang as the northern governors’ consensus candidate.

But Yuguda mentioned to journalists that he couldn’t understand why  the chairman of the Northern State Governors  Forum, and Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, did not stand up for the integrity of  the Northern Governors’ Forum after he and the other Northern governors  resolved to endorse Jang as their consensus candidate  for the NGF election.

[READ: Opinion: The NGF crisis and PDP’s shoddy damage control ]

He said where there was integrity, if 19 governors presented a consensus candidate in a 35-member association as the Northern governors did, the game should have been over. He added that the NGF had never been known to be conducting elections as its leaders were always chosen by consensus, the Punch reports.

“My words should be my bond. If I had sat down with 19 of my colleagues and we agreed on something, I should not see the chairman of that forum not coming to protect the integrity of the Northern State Governors Forum and by extension the NGF  and that is why I say all the crisis and all the unfortunate comments made about the governors today, the fault should be traced to the NSGF    because we are the culprits,” he said.

“That is why I say on his honour, let the chairman of the NSGF  come out and tell Nigerians that either we in the forum did not come out with Jang as our consensus candidate or we, 19 governors, picked Jang as our consensus candidate.

“If that had been done, all these things will not happen and that is why I say if I will sit with my colleagues and we take a decision and you go and do a different thing, I am not part of that. Me as a person, I don’t want to attend their (Northern governors’) meeting but my deputy can attend on behalf of the people and government of Bauchi State. But as a person, I will not. That has always been my position.”

The Punch reports:

However, the chairman of the Forum, and Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, defended the turnout,   explaining  that the fact that most of the governors  sent their deputies showed  that they were adequately represented. He said most of them  gave reasons why they could not attend.

He said, “If I send my deputy to a place whether I like it or not whatever decision is taken there is part of my decision and I have been saying it loud and clear that if I die today before  I am even buried,  my deputy will be sworn in. “We  have had  an example in Kaduna State. So sending a deputy did not reduce the level or the importance of any decision taken there.”

The governors,  according to Aliyu, kicked against the proposed banning of the Almajiri system of education in the region where children of school age roam the streets in quest of Islamic education.

Urging political  leaders  to focus on issues that would engender national development and the consolidation of  the democratic gains,  the governors  condemned the killing of security operatives in Nasarawa State  by the Ombaste group.

“The forum further expressed concern over the economic problems facing the nation, especially  the North  and resolved to have an economic plan  that would  form the basis for the economic  development of the North.

Also, speaking on the controversial Nigeria Governors’ Forum election, Aliyu said, “I am speaking to you as the chairman  of the NSGF (Northern State Governors  Forum) and  if you want my view, I will tell you we had an election.”    Aliyu, who also dismissed the  threat by Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda  never to attend the meeting of the NSGF , said it was unfortunate that “we seem to be developing a culture  where when you are  preparing   for an election , you  must  also prepare to contest in the court.”

But Yuguda also on Thursday accused  NSGF of being responsible for the  crisis which  caused  the factionalisation of the hitherto strong NGF.

One of the factions is  led by  Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, who reportedly won the May 24 election. Jonah Jang of Plateau State    lays claim to the leadership of the  second group.

Yuguda had on Sunday withdrawn his membership of the NSGF, citing what he  called  failure  by his colleagues in the North to honour an agreement to support   Jang during the controversial NGF poll.

However,  Aliyu   after reading the  communique of  the Forum on Thursday at the General Hassan Katsina House, Kaduna,told journalists that  the brouhaha over the NGF election was not unexpected.

The governor, who said he was not prepared to open up on what led to the problem trailing the NGF poll, added that  in every  election,  there must be  crisis  which the   participants  must  resolve among themselves.

He  said, “If  I am to tell you what led to the problem in the NGF,  we will stay here till tomorrow; so I have no intention of doing that. I will only tell you that in whatever process of election or whatever, there may be one person or  two  that will be aggrieved.

“We seem to be developing a culture where when you prepare  for an election,   you  must also prepare to contest in  court. As  I am   speaking to you as the chairman of NSGF, if you want my view, I will tell you we had an election; we have a problem and we will solve it.”

On Yuguda’s threat   never to attend the meeting of the NSGF meetings, Aliyu said he (Yuguda) was free to do so since  the  forum was a voluntary group.

He said, “The situation is that when people feel aggrieved, you don’t go back retaliating on what they have said. He (Yuguda) did not write to this meeting and it is a voluntary organisation and we have resolved as a group to follow this informally. You (journalists) did not hear any one of us replying  him  the way you heard him.”

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