Category: Cover stories Written by Hamza Idris, Maiduguri Hits: 2471
State Governors from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA ), who are perfecting plans for their parties to metamorphose into the All Progressive Alliance (APC) have literally launched their campaign train in Borno State to form a formidable opposition ahead of the 2015 election.
Throughout their one day visit to Maiduguri on Thursday, the governors exuded unmatchable confidence. This was evident in their body language and utterances.
And the fact that the governors took the bull by the horns and held their meeting in Maiduguri, despite security reports that there may be attacks and blasts by suspected insurgents speak volume of their determination to give the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a run for its money.
The governors that attended the meeting which lasted for over three hours include Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Dr. Kayoed Fayemi (Ekiti), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Babatunde Raji Fashola (Lagos), Tanko Almakura (Nasarawa), Ibikunle Amusu (Ogun), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) while Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State was represented by his deputy, Abubakar Danlami Ali and the host governor, Kashim Shettima.
It was gathered that the Zamfara State governor, Abdul’aziz Yari whose entourage had been in Maiduguri since on Wednesday arrived the state capital soon after the meeting ended, he only exchanged greetings with them at the airport before he left.
The only governor that was absent was Abiola Ajumobi of Oyo State.
As the security report suggested, there were about three separate bomb blasts around the Customs, Gamboru road and Bolori areas in the state capital while the governors were holding their meeting at the government house.
The fourth bomb went off when the governors were about leaving the town, but all the threats did not deter them from going to the Monday Market where they interacted with traders.
Political pundits opined that the ‘share bravado’ exhibited by the governors was to send signals to the PDP-led federal government.
President Goodluck Jonathan had been variously criticized for his failure to visit Borno and Yobe States.
It was only after Vice President Namadi Sambo visited Maiduguri in the first week of February that some critics sheath their sword even though many others have kept on lambasting the federal government for being “indifferent” towards the plight of Borno people and the northeast.
Residents of Maiduguri told Weekly Trust yesterday that they heard that President Jonathan will also visit Maiduguri in the next two weeks but quickly noted that he would have to do a lot in order to check the rising profile of the APC governors.
“The opposition governors have endeared themselves to the masses especially when they trekked along the volatile Monday Market area. Even if what they did was to score a political point, I think they have scored over 90 percent,” Mohammed Sabo, a political scientist said.
According to him, “the visit of the opposition governors was a clear departure from the visit of the vice president. When the latter came, the whole of Maiduguri was grounded as there were no vehicles on the streets and traders were directed to lock up their shops and remain at home. But what happened when the APC governors came?” he asked.
“I strongly believe that leaders must associate themselves with their followers so as to get acceptance,” he concluded.
It was indeed like a movie when all the governors, who entered a coaster bus after their meeting at the government house, alighted close to the Gadar Gidan Madara (a bridge close the Milk Shop) and walked for over a kilometer to the market, and along the way, shook hands with fish mongers, vegetable sellers, cart pushers and taxi drivers.
Hundreds of traders thronged out of their shops and stalls to give the governors a rousing welcome.
An old woman who supplies fruits to Maiduguri from the southern part of Nigeria exclaimed, “Comrade” when she saw Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
A middle aged man shade tears of joy when he saw the governors trekking and chatting, completely unperturbed. “This is a new dawn for our generation. This is unusual. It is gratifying that they are here to see and share with us,” he said.
“This is unbelievable,” exclaimed a yam seller who is in his late 50s. “How did they summon courage and come to this dangerous place?” he asked.
The governors walked to the roundabout and then the market where they commiserated with traders and their leaders in what appeared to be an informal setting devoid of excessive protocol.
From there, they left and entered their waiting bus along the road to the Post Office and zoomed to the airport together with their entourage after they interacted with students of Yerwa Secondary School.
“As far as we are concerned, these fearless governors have come, seen and conquered,” a trade unionist said.
But the politicking by the governors was kick started at the government house where they sang solidarity songs before Governor Ibikunle Amusun of Ogun State read the communiqué which reiterated the “irrevocable commitment” (of the governors) to the emergence of the APC.
The governors said they were pleased to witness the emerging tranquility and happy that the situation has calmed down considerably in Maiduguri.
“Contrary to the image of rampant violence that has been painted to the whole world, we have discovered the people going about their businesses without fear or hindrance,” the communiqué said.
The governors also assured that they are preparing ahead of 2015 in order to rescue the country from what they called “visionless leadership.”
They donated N200m to Borno and Yobe State governments for emergency relief and support to their people.
But the real drama was during the question and answer session where they mercilessly lashed at the ruling PDP.
While fielding questions from newsmen on why they chose Borno for the meeting, Governor Rochas Okorocha said, “Borno has been painted with a picture that it is a no go area. It has been painted with a picture of insecurity, but we the APC governors have come to prove that Borno is a safe place.
In a veiled reference to the failure of President Jonathan to visit the state, Governor Aregbesola stated thus: “After all, what is leadership? Leadership is courage, leadership is compassion, and leadership is decisiveness. These three things are the basis of our being here (Borno). We come to share with the people that we are Nigerians. We are here to show the whole world that we are one, strong and united. This is the leadership we want to give Nigerians,” he said.
On insinuations that some PDP governors are planning to join the APC, Governor Amosun of Ogun State said, As you know, this is a big party coming up and Nigerians have not had it this good when it comes to party formation. Like what my colleagues have said, APC is a child of necessity simply because Nigerians are tired. They are tired of the PDP, they want something new. And I want to assure that most of the leaders of the PDP are members of the APC. They are only waiting for the right time to come over,” he said.
Asked to comment on the ongoing crisis in the PDP, Governor Fashola said the APC will never allow itself to be dragged into the trouble.
“Our vision is clear and Nigerians know what we stand for. We have been standing for the unity and progress of this country, for social justice, for our people to have good life. We have been standing up in the period of tribulation, including the period of doctrine of necessity, fuel crisis, teachers’ crisis and true federalism. We have always been advocating for this and this is another moment of crisis in our country when we have to come out to speak with one voice,” he said.
By and large, the visit is over but the political dust raised by the APC governors will linger for long, more so that President Jonathan is expected in Maiduguri in the next few days and people would be anxious to hear what he will tell them.
“It is pleasing that the federal government and APC governors have started competing for the attention of the electorates because in one way or the other, the poor man will get something,” Binta Babagana, a student said.