The tenure of Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has kicked off to a blistering start. Still, the stakes before the forum are high, JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH writes
Last month, governors of the 36 states of the federation elected their Ekiti State counterpart as the new chairman of the Nigeria governors forum(NGF) for a period of two years. Similarly, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, was also chosen as the vice chairman of the forum.
Fayemi took over from Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who had been chairing the forum in the last four years. He was nominated by Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, and seconded by Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa. The governors unanimously endorsed the candidature of Fayemi.
In his acceptance speech, Fayemi said he was delighted by the confidence reposed on him and Tambuwal by their colleagues. “We promise that we will step into the big shoes of Yari and build on the success story of the forum from inception till date.We are comitted to strong partnership with the federal government.This is unanimously chosen and we represent Nigeria regardless of political persuasion”, he noted.
The NGF is a non-partisan platform that was created to enhance collaboration among the state governors. The aims and objectives include but are not limited to holding public policy discussions, promoting inclusive governance, sustainable development, collaboration between the governors and society. Past chairmen of the forum include Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, (Nasarawa, 1999 – 2004), Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom State, 2004 -2006), Chief Lucky Igbinedion (Edo, 2006 – 2007), Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki (Kwara, 2007- 2011), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers, 2011 -2015) and Abdulaziz Yari (2015-2019).
In its congratulatory message, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) pointed out that the unanimous election of Fayemi to lead the forum till 2021 was due to his proven record of progressive leadership and experience as a development expert, minister, governor, among other endeavours.
Fayemi held his first meeting as chairman of the NGF last Wednesday. His tenure promises to witness a turning point in procedure and methodology as indicated by the sitting of Wednesday which was the maiden meeting of his chairmanship.
At the meeting, discussions were all-encompassing and penetrating. Debates were allowed and comments were more intellectual than the previous chairmanship which was usually terse but resolute. This is not to say that the former chairman lacks depth, but that chairmanship which was very successful in getting President Muhammadu Buhari’s nod for disbursement of funds reposed so much confidence in his bulldozer style of leadership. Technically, one could refer to that Yari era as a one-man riot squad method.
Fayemi hinted that there is likely to be a return to the practices of the past, adding that SPRM would resume. The new chairman said he would like to see more comparative activity among governors. He advocated a situation where governors learn from one another and abide by global best practices.
In the meeting, security was discussed for more than an hour. Fayemi stressed that under his tenure, there would be emphasis on health, education, agriculture and internally generated revenue (IGR). Confirming that he was speaking the mind of the federal government, President Buhari had on Thursday called on states to increase their internally generated revenue( IGR), agricultural input and VAT collection in the next four years.
Buhari, who made the call during the inauguration of the new National Economic Council (NEC) at the presidential villa said the governors should do so without disrupting business activities. “Going forward, states must in the next four years find ways to increase internally generated revenues, improve VAT collection and increase agricultural output without disrupting business activities”, he stated. The president’s position is inline with Fayemi’s vision for the states in the coming months.
Particularly, Fayemi is indicated his readiness to redeem and rebrand the NGF, especially the image of the governors as the regular punching bag of the country’s critics, informed or otherwise. The chairman expressed his position on the conduct of governors themselves saying, “only we ourselves can redeem our image and we can only do this by displaying spectacular performance and staying over par in our social contract with our people”.
Fayemi promised that the NGF would be positioned for optimal national service. As proof, he met with the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, who became his very first visitor to his office at the NGF Secretariat. The maiden meeting of his chairmanship also took time to review the security situation in the country and also heard from different states. For example, governors demanded the right to participate in the choice of security chiefs posted to their states.
The deputy governor of Katsina, for example, reviewed the security situation which he said had improved immensely because of certain pragmatic steps taken by the government in conjunction with a delegation of national security officials who visited katsina. Others were advised to follow suit. They pinned the insecurity to poor leadership in the security architecture of the country.
A governor, for example, decried a situation where more than 15 police commissioners had served in his state in the last six months. He said the DSS in his state also witnessed the same “rocking chair” situation and he joked that may be there would be a new security team in his state before he returns from Abuja, noting that kind of instability is unacceptable.
According to a source who was privy to the details of the meeting, the issue of State Police also reared its head again. Most Nigerians have expressed the view that the twin problems of kidnappings and banditry which is holding the country by the jugular can only be resolved by the introduction of the state police. However, the NGF chairman explained that the matter should be approached with caution because it broke their ranks in the past.
“We all resolved that we should agitate for state police but when we got to the Villa, some of us reneged on the plan. I want to recommend that we be careful on this matter and those who want State police should have it and those who don’t should be allowed to keep the federal police”, Fayemi said.
Based on the foregoing, there is no gainsaying that the governors’ forum is set to experience a new dawn in the coming months.