Challenges before Nigeria’s Governors Forum

Oyewale Oyelola

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) after more than two years of polarisation over chairmanship position selected Zamfara State Governor, Abdul-Aziz Yari Abubakar as the new chairman.

Abubakar’s election was a unanimous decision of governors across the 36 states of the federation. It would be recalled that the re-election of former Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi as NGF chairman in 2013 led to emergence of Jonah Jang as factional chairman. Amaechi polled 19 votes while Governor Jang of plateau state (PDP backed candidate) had 15 votes.

People’s Democratic Party Governors Forum (PDPGF) Chairman, Godswill Akpabio,  later presented Jonah Jang to then President Goodluck Jonathan as NGF chairman and Dr Segun Mimiko as Vice Chairman. The rest is now history.

Although, many Nigerians still believe that governors forum is just like social club for governors with no constitutional backing.

However, the vision statement of the forum incorporated in 1969 shows that the founders meant well for Nigeria.

NGF vision states:  “An effective, proactive, inclusive, non-partisan forum which actively fosters, promotes and sustains democratic values, good governance and sustainable development in Nigeria.”

Therefore, the new leadership of the forum must drive NGF in line with its laudable vision statement.

Governor Yari Abubakar should work with PDPGF Chairman, Dr Olusegun Mimiko and Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Chairman, Owelle Rochas Okorocha,  to ensure members bring sustainable development to the country.

The forum in order to promote good governance must jettison  party politics and analyse issues  critically  before taking any decision.  NGF must   always check the excesses of Federal Government like Rotimi Amaechi led forum did from 2011-2015, as the immediate  past president,  Goodluck Jonathan,  admitted that NGF was acting as pressure group with Amaechi as Chairman.

Many Nigerians applauded the forum for dragging PDP led federal government to court over Sovereign Wealth Fund and Excess Crude Oil Account,  despite the fact that PDP has 23 governors at that time.

Furthermore, Abubakar-led forum must be proactive on matters of public policy. The forum should not wait until issue degenerate before taking action.  The issue of non-payment of workers’ salaries by many state governors clearly shows that governors were reactionary in handling the situation.

Some states owed workers more than eight months salaries before President Muhammadu Buhari ordered CBN to release about N700 billion bailout funds.

The forum would also be effective, if they equipped members with strategic financial management skills and educate them on acceptable process of handling federal government project in their states.

Time Nigeria investigations revealed that many state governors embark on rehabilitation of federal roads without getting approval from Federal Ministry of Works. Therefore, they find it difficult to get refund.  It’s wise for governors to avoid doing projects to show off or impress the masses without due process.

Former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwezeli,  recently advised governors to reduce cost of governance, block leakages, ensure creative management of resources and look inward to increase  internally generated revenue.

NGF could set up Think-Tank on economic development and use their membership of National Economic Council to promote agenda  which must be beneficial to the citizenry.

Individual governors  should serve as their brother’s keeper by interacting with others to offer solutions to problems in other states. Nobody is an island  of knowledge.

About Time Nigeria

Time Nigeria is a general interest Magazine with its headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s Capital.

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