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How Kaduna meeting exposed crack among Northern governors

Though the withdrawal of the Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda from the forum early this week gave inkling that all was not well, while the…

Though the withdrawal of the Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda from the forum early this week gave inkling that all was not well, while the happenings in Thursday’s meeting further exposed the sharp crack in the rank of the forum. 
The meeting showed that the forum has been divided into two. While a group is with Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang’s camp, the other is on the side of the embattled River State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi. Those in the camp of Jang boycotted the meeting to protest the violation of the consensus agreement during the NGF election.
It was gathered that the Vice Chairman of the forum, Benue State Governor, Mr. Gabriel Suswam who was in Lagos during the meeting refused to delegate his deputy in solidarity with the Bauchi state governor.  Though the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of Benue State, Dr. David Salifu, attended the meeting, sources around Governor Suswam said the governor like other of his colleagues has lost confidence in the forum.
“Yes I’m here, but my governor is not happy with the way his colleagues did during the last election. The essence of the Northern Governor’s Forum is to advance the course of the North, but they went ahead and abandoned their own consensus candidate for a South-South man,” he said.
But  the Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura told Weekly Trust yesterday that though there is a crack in the forum it is a family affair and there was bound to be friction in any issue concerning election or process of selection. “The Northern Governors Forum or even Nigeria Governors Forum, is a family affair and it is our business to see how we put our house in order and nobody’s business. People are poke-nosing in issues that don’t relate, don’t concern them,” he explained.
According to him, the Kaduna meeting was well attended as there was never a time a full personal presence of governors for either the Northern Governors Forum or Nigeria Governors Forum meetings occurred, pointing out that where the deputies are present, decisions are still valid because they have the same status.
“So, as far as I am concerned, whether it is the deputy governor  or the governor, the government of that state is represented. As long as we are governors or deputy governors, we have the same status; whatever decision is taken, with the deputy governors around, it is as if the governors were around,” Al-Makura pointed out, adding that having attended the Northern Governors Forum in the last two years, there is no single meeting held that had all the governors attended, not even the Nigerian Governors Forum, even National Economic Council meetings.
Weekly Trust gathered that Governor  Jang boycotted the meeting in protest of the way he was “dumped” by his colleagues at the NGF election. He was said to be the consensus candidate of the NSGF. 
The meeting which was scheduled for 10am couldn’t start until about two hours later, because the governors who were even in Kaduna for the meeting were contemplating whether to show up or not. Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, an ardent supporter of River’s governor was the first to arrive the venue of the meeting among the five governors who attended it personally.
The Deputy Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje was the first to show up among the six deputies who represented their bosses. The other governors in attendance were Mukthar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna- host,  Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa; Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe and Babangida Aliyu of Niger State.
Weekly Trust reports that Thursday’s meeting had the least attendance in the history of the forum as on the average 12 to 15 governors attend  the meeting which normally holds in Kaduna. From the opening ceremony, it was noticed that all was not well. There was no normal opening address by the chairman as it was the tradition.
 The forum’s chairman, Muazu Babangida Aliyu only told newsmen that the speculation in the media that they are meeting to discuss the withdrawal of Governor Yuguda from the forum was incorrect. However, Weekly Trust gathered that Aliyu refused to read his prepared speech for the opening ceremony, because of the poor turnout and the circumstances surrounding it.
Shortly after the opening, Almakura who is believed to be one of the loyalists of Amaechi arrived.  At end of the meeting,  the chairman read a communiqué which affected the New Nigerian Development Company (NNDC), New Nigerian Newspapers Limited, Kaduna Textile Limited (KTL) among others. No political issue was captured in it, but sources close to the meeting said the governors discussed the controversy trailing the NGF election.
Our correspondent reliably gathered that due to the poor turnout, the governors could not conduct election as no quorum was formed. Dr. Babangida Aliyu has been leading the forum since his first tenure. He told newsmen that the body was trying to mend the cord of division created by the NGF election. He also dispelled the report that the election of the forum couldn’t hold as a result of the poor turnout of the governors, saying there was no election on the agenda of the meeting.
He said Yuguda has not formally written to the forum of the withdrawal of his membership and explained thus; “the situation is that when people feel aggrieved, you don’t go back retaliating on what they have said. He did not write to this meeting and it is a voluntary organization and we have resolved as a group to follow this informally, you did not hear any one of us reply him the way you heard him.”
The Deputy Governor of Sokoto,  Mukhtar  Shagari who spoke with newsmen at end of the meeting, said they dwelt extensively on how peace can return to the northern part of the country for socio-economic development.