Re-branding the Nigeria Governors’ Forum

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The crisis that attended the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) during its election in 2013 is still fresh in the minds of political analysts.

The contest was a straight fight between former Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers and former Gov. Jonah Jang of Plateau which, at the end, resulted in stalemate and the forum split to factions.

Amaechi scored 19 votes and Jang scored 16 votes but analysts alleged that Jang was seen as former President Goodluck Jonathan preferred candidate.

Amaechi led the group of 19 governors while Jang led the other 16 governors.
Observers opine that the factions in the forum have affected the unity of the hitherto vibrant and united forum of 35 governors across the country.

However, Mr Asisshana Okauru, Director-General of the forum, described the development as a trying moment for the forum.

He noted that the election was conducted and a winner emerged contrary to speculation that there was no election.

He said the 35 governors were present and every one of them voted for their preferred candidates and the election result was announced.

“But since then, the forum could no longer speak with one voice and each went its separate way and I had to excuse myself and travel on study leave,’’ he said.

With the benefit of hindsight, the forum was inaugurated in 2009 with the former Gov. Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa as the first to chairman.

Former Gov. Lucky Igbenedion of Edo and former Gov. Bukola Saraki of Kwara, had equally led the forum at different times before the crisis ensued between Amaechi and Jang.

Okauru solicited efforts aimed at transforming the forum and its operation as a policy hub and resource centre for good governance in the country.

“When we came on board in 2009, we recognised that we could not achieve much without the active engagement of stakeholders, policy professional and sector-specific expert.

“We started by touring the 36 states of the federation as guests to our principals in company of experts who were involved in our initial review of governance at the state level,’’ he recalled.

Okauru listed the achievement of the secretariat between 2009 and 2013 to include the state peer review mechanism, knowledge management and governance share fair initiative, policy and economic advisory and polio and economic advisory, among others.

He said several retreats of the forum provided opportunity for an in-depth deliberation of what the secretariat ought to be doing differently.

“Challenges bedeviling the forum include too many sycophants, time management and poor feedback around the governors.

“The crisis in 2013 disrupted the secretariats activities and disallowed it to function optimally; there is to re-establish the vision and mission of the forum.

“Our vision provides the context for designing and managing the changes that we will need to make to address contemporary issues, attain the goals we have set for ourselves and realise our strategic objectives,’’ he said.

In his opinion, Mr Chinedu Eke, Project Manager of the forum, observed that to reposition the forum, the perception outside that it was only for the ruling party must be corrected.

He said that communication is equally needed to ensure that Nigerians see the forum as one and not a divided house from party line.

“Also, there is competition which should not have been; you find South East Governor Forum, Northern Governor Forum and South West Governor Forum, among others, but the forum must ensure that these regional groups are engaged,’’ he noted.

He said that many countries were beginning to recognise the forum until the crisis began, adding that the forum presented an asset to the country.

For proper re-positioning, Prof. Abba Gambo, Head of Department Crop and Production, University of Maiduguri, and a consultant to the forum, called for financial independence for the forum.

He said that the financial independence would enable it to function optimally without undue influence by any political party.

Also, Prof. Afeikhena Jerome, Consultant for Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Addis Ababa, said the secretariat of the forum should not be seen as serving the interests of politicians.

In the same vein, Dr Oluwafemi Oyewo, a consultant to the forum, said that the forum was a Nigerian project and not of any political party.

By and large, Mr Alutu Uzo, a presidential aide, noted that the forum ought to adopt best practice at the sub-national level about coordinating states efforts in acieving self sufficiency; not depending on the Federal Government all the time.(NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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