Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria has started a seeming political alignment ahead of 2023, the expected next election cycle in Nigeria.
The Islamist governor is suspected to be pursuing a 2023 presidential dream, and to make a significant inroad, he has started to use the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to build his political blocks.
In a seeming dramatic twist, the Kaduna governor withdrew from the race for the Chairmanship of the powerful governors’ forum and nominated Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State in Western Nigeria, the political bloc of Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State.
Fayemi who was elected Chair of the NGF does not seem to be having a robust political relation with Tinubu.
The Ekiti governor, emerging political ally of el-Rufai, was however chosen by a consensus after he was nominated by the Kaduna governor, with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, seconding his nomination.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, the immediate past chairman, announced this on Wednesday, pointing out that Fayemi was unanimously elected by the governors to lead the forum till 2021.
“Members also elected Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State as the Vice-Chairman of the forum from 2019 to 2021”, Yari said, explaining that Tambuwal was nominated by Akinwumi Ambode, the outgoing governor of Lagos whose second-term dream was aborted by Tinubu, and seconded by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
Reading a communique at the end of the meeting, Yari said that the forum was concerned with the recent guidelines of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
The guidelines according to him sought to impose restriction on the powers of states and local governments to operate within constitutionally approved parameters.
“The new guidelines have no legal basis under the NFIU Act and are contrary to constitutional provisions which put the State Joint Local Government Account under the legislation of the state houses of assembly”, he said.
“The guidelines will also be detrimental to the interest of States and local governments by crippling programmes such as the Universal Basic Education programme, Primary Health Care under One Roof, as well as the payment of the salaries of teachers, medical doctor and health workers among others which are primarily funded by state governments.”
On the call by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors to declare state of emergency on issue of insecurity, Yari said that they had all agreed to meet President Muhammadu Buhari for one-on-one discussion.
“The issue of security is under the mandate of Mr President, we are supporting him because he is the Commander-in-Chief and we hope to come up with solutions with him,” he said.
In his acceptance remark, Fayemi expressed his gratitude for the confidence reposed on him by colleagues, and pledged to build on the achievements of his predecessors and success stories of the forum.
According to him, “we will build on commitment with strong partnership with the Federal Government as federating unit and trash out issues as amicably as possible, in the overall interest of the country.
“Whatever we are going to do will be in overall interest of the nation in ensuring that our states are continuously strengthened. Our country derives the benefit of strong, dedicated states to our citizens and the partnership with all arms of government, development partners working with us in the overall interest of Nigeria.’’