Zulum, Buni tipped, nine years after 2014 crisis
Today, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), umbrella body of state governors in the country, will turn a new leaf in its leadership and orientation after 24 years of convoluted performance that culminated in fractionalisation in 2014.
Checks by The Guardian revealed that the august body undertook some introspection and institutional review and resolved to accelerate its peer review mechanism to ensure good governance and mandate delivery to the people.
Part of the new thinking in the forum is the plan to reduce the use of the platform for political considerations by electing governors that have demonstrated outstanding focus on governance into its leadership to serve as models for the union.
In a statement, the Director General of the forum, Asishana Okauru, disclosed that the governors would meet today to mark the end of the sixth plenary of the forum, stressing that the meeting will bid formal farewell to seven members that have rounded off their maximum constitutional two terms in office.
The Guardian learned that the highpoint of the valedictory session, which holds at the NGF secretariat in Abuja, would be the election of a new chairman to succeed Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who took over from Ekiti State governor, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi last year.
In the build up to the 2015 general election, the NGF ran into troubled waters when it tried to elect a chairman to pilot its affairs, even as the incumbent chairman, Chibuike Amaechi, who succeeded Dr. Bukola Saraki, decided to seek a second term.
NGF had played a stabilising role in helping to resolve the constitutional quagmire over the failure of then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to transit a letter to the National Assembly before proceeding on medical tourism overseas.
Having supported the National Assembly to adopt the doctrine of necessity, which empowered the then Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to act as President in Yar’Adua’s absence, the chairmanship of the body became a focal point of authority.
As acting President, Jonathan, who was preparing to contest the presidential election, withheld support for Amaechi, preferring that a governor from the northern states should be at the helm.
However, in the election that held, Amaechi defeated then Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang, by 19 to 16 votes.
The governors elected on the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sided with Jang and formed a splinter group as well as the establishment of PDP Governors’ Forum under Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State.
In 2015, Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, took over from Amaechi, and was succeeded by Fayemi.
Other previous chairmen of NGF include, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu (1999-2004), Obong Victor Attah, (2004-2006); Lucky Igbinedion, (2006-2007) and Saraki (2007-2011).
Going by its unwritten convention the party with the highest number of governors elected on its platform usually produces the chairman of NGF just as first term governors are exempt from leading the forum.
Sources disclosed that the Northwest geopolitical zone of the country is poised to throw up the next chairman in the persons of either Zulum or Buni, who are members of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
Already, the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, and his Yobe State counterpart, Mai Mala Buni, who easily won their second term mandates, are enjoying the strong support of many of the second term governors in the 36-member forum.
In an interaction with The Guardian, Prof. Ibrahim Umara of the Department of Political Science, University of Maiduguri, explained that the NGF is a veritable platform to pursue the cause of national stability, stressing that the forum offers governors the opportunity to share ideas and experiences.
Umara disclosed that while the ruling party, APC, is expected to throw up one of its governors as chairman, it is taken for granted that the Deputy Chairman of the forum would come from the main opposition PDP to achieve balance.
The Academic noted that out of the 28 governorship elections contested on March 18, 2023 general elections, APC won in 16 states or 57 per cent of the states, remarking that while PDP had 10 states, Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) had one state apiece.
He explained that since the NGF chairmanship rotates between the North and South, “it is expected that the next chairman will come from the North.”
“In the domination of representation at the forum’s 36 states, APC has 20 governors to PDP’s 13. All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), LP and NNPP each has a new governor. Traditionally, the chairman emerges from among the governors of the majority party, APC.
“The new governors are, however, ineligible to vie for the chairmanship of the forum based on their inexperience in running the affairs of the people,” Prof. Umara stated.
APC has seven re-elected governors including, Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara), and Babagana Zulum (Borno).
The ruling party also secured wins for nine new governorship candidates comprising Uba Sani (Kaduna), Bassey Otu (Cross River), Mohammed Bago (Niger), Umar Namadi (Jigawa), Ahmed Aliyu (Sokoto), Dikko Radda (Katsina), Hyacinth Alia (Benue), Francis Nwifuru (Ebonyi) and Dr. Nasir Idris (Kebbi).
For the PDP, three of its governors secured their re-election, including Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), while seven others are first-term governors.
They include, Kefas Agbu of Taraba state, Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), Peter Mbah (Enugu), Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom), Siminialayi Fubara (Rivers) and Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta state.
The upsets in the governorship poll occurred in Zamfara and Kano States, where PDP’s Dauda Lawal unseated the incumbent, Bello Matawalle, while Abba Kabir of NNPP stopped APC from retaining Kano.
With the clear-cut majority standing of APC governors, as well as the few numbers of second term chief executives, the likelihood of a repeat of the contentious 2014 NGF election seems far and remote.
According to Prof. Umara, “Zulum and Buni’s chances to win the NGF chairmanship are based on the ruling APC’s highest number of governors in the incoming administration of Sen. Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
“This automatically qualifies APC to produce the next NGF chairman, while the PDP will easily produce the Deputy Chairman of the forum.”