Southern Governors Forum and Its Familiar Rhetoric

By Nze Nwabueze Akabogu

The seventeen Southern Governors recently held their third meeting at Enugu and rose from the summit with their usual communiqué which could rightly be described as mere declaration of intent or rather policy statement that obviously lacked focus and sense of urgency even as virtually all their two previous resolutions in Asaba and Lagos had remained a mere paper work and yet to be implemented by the Governors in their respective states.

It would be recalled rather with utter disappointment and disillusionment that virtually all the resolutions earlier adopted by the Southern Governors were yet to be carried out as the Governors seemingly seriously lacked the political will and sagacity to implement the lofty resolutions for the benefit of their people.

One typical example of the Governors’ seeming lack of seriousness was the 1st September 2021 deadline which the Governors set for themselves for the promulgation of the anti-grazing law in their various States but regrettably only a few States had so far passed the law and subsequently assented to by their respective Governors. Some other State Governors were still in the process of enacting the laws in their States while others were yet to even initiate the process in their respective Houses of Assembly.

Interestingly, the 1st September 2021 deadline for the enactment of the anti-grazing law had come and gone and many State Governors were still dragging their feet on this rather extremely dangerous and disturbing phenomenon that affects the daily lives and wellbeing of their citizens.

It is instructive to equally observe in this piece that the implementation of this law which is critical and a matter of urgent national importance as was earlier adopted by the Governors in their previous resolutions was regrettably largely ignored at the just concluded Enugu Summit thereby sending a wrong signal and portraying the Governors as unserious and merely playing to the gallery to the detriment of the lives and wellbeing of their own people.

It is pertinent to mention also some of the major and critical National issues which the Southern Governors had earlier deliberated upon and adopted certain resolutions requiring urgent implementations such as:- (a) Their condemnation of selective justice and resolved that arrests should be made within the ambit of the law and fundamental human rights (b) Their call for State Police (c) Their Commitment to the unity of Nigeria based on the pillars of EQUITY, FAIRNESS, PROGRESS AND PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE between and among it’s  people (c) Their call for the urgent and bold steps to RESTRUCTURE Nigeria as well as their  demand for the review of the LOPSIDED APPOINTMENTS into government departments / security agencies to REFLECT THE DIVERSITY OF NIGERIA, amongst others.

It is a matter of deep regret however, that the Southern Governors had unfortunately proven grossly incapable and unwilling to pursue the urgent implementation of their seemingly empty and well orchestrated resolutions and they had suddenly developed cold feet in confronting the Almighty Federal Government on the thorny national issues.

It is equally worrisome and blatant betrayal of the people’s trust and high expectations by the failure of the Southern Governors to protect their common interest of the people at this extremely precarious and uncertain times. And by their obvious lack of political will and brinkmanship, the Southern Governors had proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they were merely paper tigers that could only bark but could not bite.

They had equally exposed their lack of unity, courage, cohesion and sense of purpose in their so-called pursuit for justice and equity for their hapless and terribly impoverished people.

The current socio-economic cum political situation as well as the lingering insecurity challenges in the country which had continued unabated, had even become worse and almost irredeemable and yet the Southern Governors had portrayed themselves as totally incapable of proffering urgent solutions to the myriad of challenges bedeviling the nation.

It is equally a sad commentary that the ranks of the Sothern Governors Forum seem to be dwindling by the day as was the case during the last summit in Lagos and the just concluded Enugu meeting when according to press report only about nine Governors attended the Enugu Summit while seven Deputy Governors represented their principals at the meeting.

The Governor of Anambra State reportedly was conspicuously absent in the meeting and was not even represented by any official of the State government. The simple deduction in this rather ugly scenario is that the Southern Governors despite their highly orchestrated and publicized Summits and resolutions, seriously lacked unity of purpose and unanimity among themselves even as each of the Governors came to the Summit with entirely different agendas.

This rather embarrassing state of affairs would certainly not augur well for the downtrodden people whose common interest and aspirations the Southern Governors tended to be championing.

It is equally incomprehensible, cowardice and the height of insensitivity on the part of the South East Governors with the exception of the host Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for them to have shamelessly absented themselves from the just concluded Summit in Enugu which is the Zonal Capital of the South East region.

These Governors had no reason whatsoever to have absented themselves or shied away from this all important meeting held right in their own domain and which main objective was to address the monumental injustice, inequity and criminal marginalization suffered by the people of Southern Nigeria and the South East region in particular.

The South East Governors should hide their faces in shame as they woefully failed to rise to the occasion when their people needed them most and for which history would certainly be unkind to them. The South East Governors should start thinking in terms of what would be their fate and the legacies they intended to leave behind for posterity after their tenures.

In conclusion, the Southern Governors Forum should borrow a leaf from their Northern counterparts who had remained steadfast and resolute in total defence of their people’s common interest and general wellbeing at all times. The Northern Governors and the political gladiators from the region had never abandoned or abdicated their responsibilities to their people and their common interest.

They had always cherished their common socio-cultural and political bond and had also guarded jealously their unity and common heritage. They are more committed to the unity and common interest of the homogeneous North than the Nigerian State hence all the policies and actions of the present Buhari administration tended to overwhelmingly favour the North in the sharing of sensitive political, security, judicial and other important appointments in the country which clearly were a complete negation of the principle of federal character as well as the non reflection of the diversity of the nation.

The Northern elites had always maintained their common stance of one united North with their primordial hegemonic mentality, which recently had been exemplified by none other person than the highly respected spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) Hakeem Baba Ahmed who was reported to have arrogantly insisted that the North would never cede the President of Nigeria to the South on the premise of their sheer numerical strength and voting pattern of the North, neither would the North ever part with or surrender its deeply entrenched privileges and “unmerited” political positions in the country.

The NEF spokesman Baba Ahmad was also quoted to have boasted that the North would never play the second fiddle or second class role even as the North was already destined to always be the first class in the affairs of the political entity called Nigeria hence it must continue to call the shots at all times.

The present rather rigid and arrogant stance of the North should therefore serve as an eye opener and a serious challenge to the Southern Governors who should realize that the political battle line had already been drawn.

A common Igbo adage says: “Agwo nokwa na akirika” (The snake is lurking dangerously around to strike). The Southern Governors should therefore quickly put their thinking caps and put their deeply divided house in order and get ready to confront the unfolding political drama and its attendant consequences which might spell doom to the fragile unity of the country and ultimately consume the political entity called Nigeria.

Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a Regular Public Affairs

Commentator and Analyst.

He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.

G.S.M: 08074942671, 07037256684

E-mail: nzenwabuezeakabogu@yahoo.com

24th September, 2021.

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