With the tenure of the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, ending soon, together with his chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, the battle to succeed him has begun to gain momentum.
At least, three governors from the North are gearing up to contest the position, when it becomes vacant.
The occupant is expected to be a critical factor in the next presidential election in 2023.
The position of the PDP Governors’ Forum started with former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio in 2014, when a crisis of succession erupted in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), with then Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State squaring up to each other.
Chairmanship of the PDP Governors Forum is rotated between the North and South. The immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, had handed over to his colleague from Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo, who at the expiration of his tenure handed over to the current chair, Dickson.
However, as Dickson is billed to bow out this February, the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, and the Taraba State governor, Darius Ishiaku, are said to be lobbying intensely to become the next chairman of the PDP governors.
Their aspiration is already generating tension, which is quite understandable, because the next chairman of the forum would either be a major factor in the 2023 presidential run or in serious consideration as the party’s standard-bearer. It is widely believed that there is a subtle understanding among key actors in the two leading political parties that the next president of the country would be chosen from former governors.
According to a source, which pleaded anonymity, the PDP Governors Forum chairman is seriously in contention, as the governors are believed to control the delegates and are also the major financiers of the party.
There are 15 governors currently elected on the platform of the party,
The forum, as a powerful bloc, is a formidable force in the party, especially for the second term governors, who still nurse future political ambitions. Wherever the governors throw their weight is almost always where the majority of the people head.
Tambuwal is the deputy chairman of NGF, the main umbrella body of the 36 governors in Nigeria.
The source told our source regarding Tambuwal, “If he becomes the next chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, coupled with the fact that he was Speaker of the House of Representatives for four years, then, he would be unstoppable in his presidential quest in 2023.
“This is why his alleged resolve to become the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum is causing some ripples among his colleagues. He is also going about his ambition discretely. PDP as a political party cannot intervene in who becomes the chair, but the party always has interest because of the enormous powers the forum usually enjoys.”
On the other hand, Ortom is not being taken seriously. He is a newcomer, who just defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Although he was National Auditor of PDP from where he was appointed minister during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, before ending up as governor, the odds are not in his favour.
According to the source, “Ortom’s consideration in the race is basically because he is a second term governor from the North-central and the only PDP governor from the zone.”
Ishaku, on his part, is one of the second term governors of the PDP from the North-east and also a former minister during the administration of Jonathan. The source considered his aspiration critical, as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is from the zone. But it is not clear if Atiku is nursing a presidential ambition ahead of 2023 or whether he would support Ishaku. However, many believe it might not be in Atiku’s interest for Tambuwal to emerge the next chairman of PDP governors’ forum.
“It is obvious both Atiku and Tambuwal still have their eyes on the presidential job,” the source explained, adding, “Whoever becomes the next chairman of the PDP governors is entirely the prerogative of the governors.
“But don’t rule out intervention from some politicians.”
On the role of the South-east governors, the source said, “They are qualified especially, the second term governors, but the rotation of the office of the chairmanship of the forum between the North and the South basically rules them out.
APC, PDP Bandy Words Over Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request
The ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have argued over President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
Recall that the president made the request in a letter he addressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development, cautioned the NASS against approving the request, saying it could set the country’s debt profile skyrocketing without a feasible repayment plan.
With the approval to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans by its legislative body barely two months ago, Nigeria’s debt profile risks reaching over N40 trillion.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into a deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to the personal pockets of their corrupt leaders,” the opposition PDP said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday.
But responding to the PDP’s criticism, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, said the loans are for “the good of the country” and well-being of the citizenry.
The ruling party also accused the opposition party of looting foreign loans obtained during its 16 years rule rather than spending on infrastructure and economic growth as, according to it, Mr Buhari-led government is doing.
“It was in PDP’s era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460 million loan taken from China to fund a phoney Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) contract awarded in August 2010.
“Nigerians should also reflect and recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few,” the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.
A’Ibom Gov Signs Anti-Open Grazing Law
Akwa lbom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has signed into law a bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches in the state.
The Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom (SAN), presented the bill for signing on Wednesday at the State Executive Chambers, in the Governor’s Office, Uyo.
The governor, after signing the bill into law, stated that the new law was no respecter of persons irrespective of status or calibre.
He instructed relevant authorities of government to ensure that the law was implemented and enforced to the letter with strict compliance, stressing that, culprits must be brought to book accordingly.
The new law will promote modern techniques in animal husbandry, prevent the destruction of farms by wandering cattle while reducing clashes and killings between herders and farmers in the state.
It will also promote international best practices in livestock administration, regulation and control in the state, among other things.
The state Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, directed the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to communicate the decision of the House to the Governor for his assent.
Also at the Executive Chambers, the Speaker who was accompanied by the Leader of the House, Udo Kierian Akpan, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to the signing ceremony witnessed the inauguration of two C\committees by the Governor.
The committees are the Akwa Ibom State Gender Based Violence Management Committee, chaired by the First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, and Akwa Ibom State Road Safety Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo.
NASS S’East Caucus Moves To Reconstruct Federal System
Members of the South East Caucus of the National Assembly have resolved to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians across regional, religious, political, and ethnic divides to reconstruct a federal system where the rights, happiness, and prosperity and those of unborn generations are guaranteed.
Making their feelings known in a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting held at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja last Wednesday, the law makers said the topic of the meeting centered on review of developments in the South East, particularly the security situation in the region vis-à-vis the sit-at-home orders by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“We expressed solidarity with our people of the South East over the marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things within the Nigerian commonwealth. The Caucus feels the pains of our people and their quest for equity, justice, and protection of their lives and property in every part of the country. The Caucus, therefore, resolved to continue to fight for a level-playing ground and an enabling federal system where Ndigbo are able to develop their homeland at their own pace and equally pursue their happiness and actaulise their enormous potentials in every part of the country, unmolested.
Reviewing the sit-at-home orders by the IPOB and the mayhem some nefarious elements have seized the opportunity to visit on the lives, properties, and psyche of the people, the Caucus equally reviewed and rued the incalculable economic losses and hardships these have brought upon the region.
They, however, condemned in strongest terms the disruption of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in some parts of the South East, particularly the incident at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, where the English examination organised by the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, on Monday, September 13, 2021, was ruthlessly scuttled by armed men, who chased away the students, teachers, and examiners before setting ablaze motorcycles belonging to the teachers.
“This is certainly not who we are as a people. On the contrary, we are a people, who have always cherished and encouraged learning from the ages. We are a people that fully appreciate the place of education in the liberation and enlightenment of the human mind and the socio-economic and political emancipation of a people”.
The South East legislators equally condemned in strongest terms the incessant killings in the South East, adding “This must stop immediately. We call on the security agencies to unravel the culprits behind these wicked acts and ensure that they are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“ Noted with delight that IPOB has called off the Monday sit-at-home order and resolved to ensure that nobody uses them as façades to bring ruination on Igbo land.
“ Call on our people to go about their lawful businesses and enjoin our governors and the security agencies to rebuild confidence in our people by not only ensuring the security of their lives and properties, but also ensuring that our people feel safe as they undertake their legitimate businesses.
”Elaborately discussed the issue of Mazi Nnamdi and resolved to intervene. To this end we resolved to set up a committee to constructively interface with relevant stakeholders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies towards finding a political solution. We will keep Ndigbo abreast of developments in regard.
“Appeal to our people not to allow anyone to destroy the South East region. The post-war South East was not built through government patronage, but largely by the sheer determination and sacrifices of our people, who refused to resign to fate or bow their heads in defeat.
“It is in Igbo land that you easily find hospitals, schools, roads, and other social amenities built by individual or communal efforts of the people, home and abroad, through the instruments of the town unions and other community organisations such as the age grades, Umuada, etc.
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