NGF Crisis: President Jonathan’s Costly Mistake.

The Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) has grown over the years to become a most potent pressure group comprising democratically elected governors in Nigeria.

Decisions from the forum had always been respected and celebrated across the broad spectrum of political leanings in the country and even outside Nigeria’s shores especially with some dynamic leaderships the forum had witnessed in times past.

Then things fell apart. Some aides and confidants of President Goodluck Jonathan impressed it upon him that Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi was not loyal to the President. That Rotimi was interested in becoming the Vice President on a joint ticket with Suleman Lamido of Jigawa State. That Amaechi has been disrespectful to the First Lady and so on……That the President must do something about Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the NGF that he was leading before both turned out to be the President’s albatross in the year 2015.

Many things were done and attempted to be done against Oluwarotimi. His Rivers State aircraft was grounded, attempted (real or imagined) were made to get him impeached. Governor Akpabio was brought in to head a newly created PDP Governor’s Forum and eventually Governor Rotimi Amaechi was suspended from the political party PDP where he was also a member of the National Working Committee.

Nevertheless, the NGF election was held; then Oluwarotimi scored 19 votes to beat sleeping Jonah Jacobite’s group who had 16 votes. Next was the unfortunate declaration by Jonah Jang that he won the election, his faction opened a new NGF office and visited Jonathan who received Jang and other Governors who had failed to impose Jang, the generally unacceptable leader of the NGF.

The NGF election was instructive in some many respects. It was conducted under a President who covertly was interested in the outcome. It was done by governors in Nigeria who have the electoral mandates and to a very large extent, the electoral minds of their people. The process, though democratic, the result was annulled, 20 years after M.K.O Abiola suffered the same fate.

Many Nigerian leaders are bad students of Nigeria’s Political History. President Jonathan shot himself in the leg and wounded the North more. Before the election, the leader of the Northern Governor’s Forum, Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu said emphatically that, Amaechi was their choice and that Jonathan agreed to a single term tenure with the North.

Predictably, what was the result of the 2015 Presidential Election, when Jonathan in PDP forced himself to contest? Obviously, it was 19 States against Jonathan’s 16 States, even if the APC, has not succeeded to gain more States and sitting Governors then. The question then was who are the people fooling the President? What and who will he use for re-election as President? Is it performance on power, security, the country’s corruption index, level of unemployment, Asari Dokunbo or Anenih who cannot win elections in their own States.

Moreover, the man who foisted him on Nigeria has said he had found a replacement after his (Jonathan’s mentor) heart in Lamido. Majority of Tambuwwal’s progressive members in the House of Representatives worked against Jonathan in 2015. While Ibrahim Babangida, Buhari, Tinubu, Okorocha, Kwankwaso and Wamakko openly opposed his ambition.

Whoever advised Jonathan to be interested in the NGF elections or to welcome Jang Caucus in Aso Rock did great damage to the goodluck of Mr. President. Like his predecessor Musa Yaradua was doing, he could have recognized the result of that election, congratulated Amaechi and let the sleeping dog lie.

The former President of Africa’s most populous country could state manly demystify the NGF, later, effectively, if he so wishes.

If the President observed, many of his aides did not defend the visit of Jang’s caucus to the President as they did not when he welcomed Nigerians into a new year with removal of fuel subsidy few years back.

Those Nigerians who Jonathan saw during those protests against the removal of oil subsidy in 2012 waited for the elections in 2015.

Jonathan could ask Babangida that if he had opportunity again, would he annul a validly conducted election in Nigeria or Obasanjo whether he would ever toy with the idea of third term agenda with Nigerians when they say no.

Jonathan finally got his rest after 2015 and Nigeria a change from Ebeleism. With patience, he had goodluck. If I were him then, I will start planning for rest before he was compulsorily rested. The massively angered Nigerians did not buy into the story that he “once had no shoes”.

And the resilience of Nigeria made it survive as a nation after the elections in 2015. Elections was held, it was successful in many parts of Nigeria. However, the sayings of the wise is relevant here “those who make peaceful change impossible, can make violent change inevitable”.


By Idowu Ayodele.

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