Debrief: What exactly went on at IBB and Abdulsalami’s meeting with the northern governors
So five northern governors, three of whom have rumored presidential ambitions, while the remaining two are at loggerheads with the PDP national leadership, have travelled the nation – East, West and North in a bid to save the party, and their hides.
So far they’ve been to red-hot Rivers, where Rotimi Amaechi loyalists tried very hard to make their stay comfortable with protests that turned violent. They also stopped by the country home of former Olusegun Obasanjo in Ota, after waiting for Baba and President Goodluck Jonathan to finish up over the weekend. And yesterday (Monday), the ‘Saviours’ landed in Minna, where the five governors – Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); and Babangida Aliyu (Niger) met with two former Heads of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar at the Presidential Lodge in Minna.
Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), originally scheduled to be in the meeting, was absent. According to the other governors, he had a previously scheduled commitment with officials across the border in Cameroon.
They are said to have talked the two former leaders into persuading on President Goodluck Jonathan to guarantee a free political space for democracy to thrive, claiming that they cared less about which zone will produce the President in 2015.
Or in other words, tell the President not to police all of us like kids so that we can do our thing.
They also penciled down some issues that they need resolved:
•the lingering Rivers crisis and its possibly disastrous consequences for Nigeria’s democracy;
•the increasing frictions within the Nigeria Governors’ Forum;
•clampdown on governors to force them to do the President’s will;
•intolerance of the opposition and opposing views by the Presidency; and
•lack of internal democracy in the ruling party.
One of the governors during the meeting, took an interesting view on Rivers. “If what the President wanted had played out in Rivers State, Nigeria would have by now been on fire. Why will five lawmakers seek to impeach a governor in the House of Assembly with 32 members?”
“We cannot also understand why four governors were pelted with stones by thugs for visiting one of their colleagues on a re-conciliatory mission. We were shocked that the police were used to unleash mayhem on Rivers State.
“The plan of the Presidency is to be dealing with dissenting governors one by one.”
Some papers have quoted sources privy to the discussions, who said one of the governors informed the ex-rulers that their main push was not 2015 but how to get free and fair elections in 2015. According to them, they did not hate the president but were concerned that “the political environment as it is now cannot guarantee freedom of movement, freedom of speech and freedom of electoral choice.”
Freedom of electoral choice?
The governors also implored Babangida and Abdulsalami rally round other leaders to rein in the President in order to safeguard the nation’s democracy and prevent it degenerating into an autocracy.
Both ex-Heads of State were reportedly cautious in their response, but promised to take the governors’ concerns to the “appropriate quarters.”