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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Mixed reactions greet govs’ visits to ex-leaders

BY JOHN ALECHENU AND CHUKWUDI AKASIKE


Nyako, Wamakko, Kwakwanso and Lamido
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the visits of some Northern states’ governors to three former Nigerian leaders – Generals Olusegun Obasanjo,   Abdusalami Abubakar and Ibrahim Babangida.
Four of the governors – Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Sule Lamido(Jigawa); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); and Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano) – had  last Saturday visited Obasanjo in Abeokuta where they discussed issues that have to do with the polity, especially the 2015 general elections.
On Monday, Wamakko, Lamido, Kwakwanso and Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu  headed for Minna, where they reportedly discussed similar issues, including the political crisis in Rivers State with Abubakar and Babangida.
At the meeting which was to have also been attended by Nyako, the governors appealed to Abubakar and Babangida to ask President Goodluck Jonathan to  urgently bring the Rivers State crisis to  an end.
While the main opposition political parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Congress for Progressive Change –  described the visits as a welcome development, the  Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen and the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, disagreed.
In a   telephone interview  with  one of our correspondents,  the National Publicity Secretary  of the  ACN,  Alhaji Lai Mohammed,  said,   “I think the four or five governors made their case. They are worried and concerned about the growing climate of political intolerance and impunity and that these have consequences not only for democracy  but for the 2015 elections.
“They are concerned that the current attitude and frame of mind of the President regarding some governors even those considered as dissidents   is worrisome to them.
“They are saying that at the rate things are going there might be no election in 2015.
“This is aligning with our own position about four months ago that we are concerned about certain actions of  the government.  Then we  cried out about the despotic nature of the President but we were taken on by the President’s spokesperson that it was not despotism.
“This is what these governors are seeing now and what they are saying by their visit; in calling on all of these former Heads of State and elder statesmen is to appeal to the President to allow for democracy and a peaceful election in 2015.”
Mohammed’s counterpart in the CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, argued that some of the issues   raised by the governors  were capable of derailing the nation’s democracy if not urgently addressed.
He  said, “There is nothing wrong with people going round to troubleshoot  and  bring about   resolution of crises.
“You  will find out that in situations like this,  you must be able to explore all avenues.
“The   First Lady has confessed that as far back as four years ago, she bore a grudge against the Rivers State governor  and it was because of  this that we are witnessing what we are seeing now.
“Some of these issues are capable of derailing this democracy; it is understandable why they will continue to   explore avenues for peace.
“They are going round to see people they feel can have some influence on the President and his wife to speak up now so that we can have a stable polity.”
Their arguements were supported by  the  Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Mr. Otelemaba Amachree, who said the visits  were  capable of restoring peace to the PDP and ending the crisis in  the state.
 Amachree,  who spoke through his Media Assistant, Mr. Jim Okpiki, argued that Obasanjo, Abubakar and Babangida   were still relevant to the  Nigerian political  clime.
 He said, “The truth is that we cannot remove Babangida and Obasanjo in today’s politics. Apart from that, Babangida and Abubakar  are very influential people that can make things happen.”
However, the convener of the CNPAPB, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, believes that the visits  were  not to salvage the country but the PDP.
Mohammed said that if  the governors’ actions were to save the country, they should have also visited a former President, Shehu Shagari, and another ex-Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
He said, “As far as I can remember,  Shagari was a President of this country and he is alive and well. General Gowon,  like the others,  is a former  Head of State, who did this country proud.
“These men were not  visited  and this goes to prove that these visits have nothing to do with salvaging the country.  Indeed,  the goal is to  salvage  the PDP as a party  and  they have more to do with public relations.
 “None of these men that they visited  is in a position to salvage the nation. If the nation is to be salvaged, it will not be Babangida  or any of these people; it will be salvaged by forces beyond these individuals.   As a public relations exercise, I don’t mind the governors going to visit former Heads of State but I mind  the way it was done because Obasanjo, Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar and  Gen. (Theophilus) Danjuma, who  is  also being considered for a similar visit ,  have only one thing in common:  They are stinkingly rich.”
To the   Rivers State chapter of the PDP, the   governors  are desperadoes  looking for exit plans as their tenure  is  drawing to an end.
The party, in  a statement   by the Special Adviser on Media to its  Chairman, Mr. Jerry Needam, argued that the visits were not borne out of genuine interest to resolve the lingering political crisis in Rivers State, but to fuel it.
 It  wondered why the   governors who are now “patriots” of democracy could not remove the logs in their eyes before removing the speck in other people’s eyes.
 “How can any serious minded governor not be worried that the average Northerner today lives in grave fear of insecurity and poverty and yet these busybody governors are wasting tax- payers’ money, flying on chartered executive jets to stoke trouble in Rivers State,”  the party said.
Punch

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