Former President Goodluck Jonathan has tipped governors as Leaders in a better position to proffer solutions to burning national issues.
“If the governors meet and dialogue, interrogate things that are good for this country, then we will move forward,” he said yesterday in Benin, the Edo State capital.
The former President spoke against the background of the southern governors meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, where they declared that there should be an “urgent national dialogue”.
The governors also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation in addition to a call for restructuring and a reaffirmation of their total ban on open cattle grazing in the South, especially herders from the North “on foot”.
But Senate President Ahmad Lawan leads those criticising the governors for their call. He accused them of resorting to “regionalism”.
Lawan said they should first carry out restructuring in their states, where they have “diminished” the local government administration.
Jonathan, speaking after delivering an address to mark the 50th birthday of Apostle Charles Osazuwa, president of the Rock of Ages Christian Assembly, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports, emphasised the importance of the governors in the political set up, “especially in a country where the local governments are very week. It is the states that people fall back on.”
Not speaking exactly on the Asaba declaration, the ex-President said: “Governors themselves should continue to meet, I don’t really love a situation where the northern governors will meet, then the southern governors will cry foul.
“Then the southern governors will meet, the northern governors will cry foul, that will not help our country.
“The governors, through the Governors’ Forum, should meet, they are the people who run this country, the President is just one person in Abuja.
“I don’t really enjoy the antagonism between governors (North and South). They should come together and discuss.
“If there are issues that are affecting one or two states, I think the governors should see how they can collectively come with a way to address those issues.”
Delivering his messages at the birthday, Jonathan explained: “My belief, particularly when I joined politics is not to use a temporary privilege, a temporary position God has given to me to punish people.’’
“Some of the things I did while in office to which people still make reference were based on the conviction not to use my position to cause the death of anybody.
“Any position I have occupied by divine providence should not be used to create hardship for other people.’’
Jonathan was deputy governor, governor of Bayelsa State, vice president, who succeeded his late boss Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as President. He lost a re-election bid to President Muhammadu Buhari.
South’s speakers back governors
Speakers of Houses of Assembly in states in the South at the weekend, threw their weight behind the governors’ resolution on national issues. They took the decision in Asaba – where the governors met last week – to commend them for speaking with one voice.
The speakers in a resolution signed by Delta Speaker Sheriff Oborevwori, said: “We, the Speakers of State Legislatures in Southern Nigeria commend the governors of the Southern states for their patriotism and firm belief in the unity of the country.
“We salute the governors for their initiative and restate our support for the positions of the governors. We wish to state unequivocally that the issues canvassed are neither new nor strange, rather they require swift response from the Federal Government.
“The country is currently undergoing very challenging times and requires bold and audacious measures to stop it from sliding into abyss.
“We maintain that the positions of the governors are sacrosanct and a guarantee for justice, fairness and equity in the country.
“We adopt all the positions in the communique and reiterate the call for the ban on open grazing of cattle in the South.
“We pledge to deploy our legislative powers to strengthen the positions canvassed by the governors.
“We also urge the governors to send bills to the legislature where necessary to address some of the issues in the communique.”
At the meeting were Oborevwori, Deputy National Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria, Mr Aniekan Bassey, Vice Chairman South- South, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria; Francis O.Nwifuru, Vice chairman Southeast, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria and Prince Olakunle Taiwo Oluomo, Vice Chairman Southwest, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria.
APC Southeast Forum okay decisions
Also yesterday, the Forum of State Chairmen of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Southeast expressed support for the Southern Governors’ Forum’s call for restructuring.
During a solidarity visit to Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma at the Government House, Owerri, the Forum according to a statement signed by Abia State Caretaker Chairman/Chairman Southeast APC State Chairmen Forum, Enugu State Caretaker Chairman/Secretary, Imo State Caretaker Chairman, Chief Marcellaneous Nlemigbo, Ebonyi State Caretaker Chairman, Hon. Stanley Okoro and Anambra State Caretaker Chairman, Chief Basil Ejidike, urged President Buhari to disregard political jobbers, sycophants and create avenue for positive and fruitful dialogue with the governors and other opinion leaders for the purpose of charting a new and acceptable political agenda for the nation.
“We wish to identify with and commend the fearless and patriotic positions and stand of the Southern Nigerian Governors Forum and call on our courageous and patriotic President Muhammadu Buhari to resist and reject the opinion of Prince jesters, political jobbers, sycophants and create avenue for positive and fruitful dialogue with the governors and other opinion leaders for the purpose of charting a new and acceptable political agenda for our nation.”
The forum also expressed worry and total condenmination of the wanton destruction of property, loss of lives and trivialisation of governance by the attempted arson on Governor Uzodimma’s home.
North’s groups coalition kicks
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) yesterday kicked against the position of southern governors on open grazing.
CNG, which condemned the Southern governors’ decision to ban open cattle grazing in their domains, said it was time the leadership of the Northern states took urgent action to check the mass movement of millions of people from the South into the vast interior of the North.
The coalition in a statement signed by it’s spokesperson Abdul-Azeez Suleiman said: “Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, has followed national issues very closely, particularly in the past few months when our democracy, political unity and national security have come under serious scrutiny. We note in particular the governors’ decision to ban open cattle grazing, their renewed interest in the clamour for restructuring, and other sentiments which tend to create tensions around our coexistence as a nation.
“As is our tradition, we have restrained from the flow of idle and unproductive engagements which trailed the Asaba Declaration to a point when it became obvious that northern governors and most of those that call themselves northern leaders today, have lost the necessary courage to defend the rights and privileges of all northerners”.
“The Asaba meeting has however exposed the extent of the bankruptcy of northern governors who have not for once, met to take concrete steps to anticipate and checkmate the maneuvers of the South, particularly with the creation of such armed outfits as the Amotekun, Eastern Security Network and recently the Ebubeagu which are now the tools used to intimidate northerners in the South and to challenge the Nigerian State.
“The meeting also exposed the total failure of the northern governors in the vital area of speaking up for the rights of northerners to be protected from illegal harassment where they earn their living; their rights to places of worship, and their rights to full protection when they live as minorities among other communities in Nigeria”.