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Posted in: Columns, The Upshot, Tuesday

As the G7 governors weigh options

By Habib Aruna

The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) must have visited all the aggrieved governors of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), now popularly known as G7, to lure them to the mega opposition party. As this piece was going to bed, the opposition leaders were rounding up visit to Yola to see the Adamawa State Governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd), one of the leading voices among the “rebel” governors, who have been clamouring for change in the leadership and structure of PDP.

Before then, the APC leaders had visited Dutse to see Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and Kano, where they met the governor, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso. They even went to Sokoto, there they met the State Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, by the sidelines after attending the opening of the new state university.

In the series of meetings held with the G7 leaders, the message has been clear: it’s time for you to make up your mind and join the opposition to wrestle power from the PDP in 2015. While not coming out to distance themselves from these entreaties by the APC, the G7 governors have not, at the same time, turned their back against the opposition. They have, indeed, shown that they are not totally against the idea, while weighing other options.

It was the Kano State Governor that gave a definitive response to the APC request. He told the delegation that he will have to consult with stakeholders of the PDP in the state before deciding on whether to defect to APC.

“I will sit down with all stakeholders because there is no decision I can take as governor can sit down and take on his own without consulting the stakeholders of the party. Kwankwasiyya movement is a disciplined movement. We are working as a group and a team,’’ he said.

Continuing, he said: “Certainly, we will sit down, all of us and look at all the challenges and the consequences, if any, and together we will take decision on what to do and communicate to you.”

The governor described Kwankwasiyya Movement as a `powerful movement’ which has the capacity and strength to win election in 2015. “We are stronger now than when we had no government”, he asserted.

The governors of Lagos, Imo and Ekiti states as well as former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Masari, former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, joined Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, together with serving and former legislators who were among high ranking APC members that accompanied Gen. Buhari during the visits. One of the APC leaders told me at the weekend that they are likely to visit the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, latest Monday (yesterday).

But speculation has been rife in the past few weeks that the G7 governors are mulling the idea of leaving the PDP for the APC in the wake of court rulings that have largely been against them. While not ruling out the possibility of getting justice through the court since they have appealed the various judgments, they have also not ruled out the option of leaving the ruling party in droves to the opposition.

Now, what are the implications if they decide to leave the PDP, given the difficulty they have faced so far in decimating it and making it an unenviable platform for the President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015? Will it be possible to break the PDP’s hold on power from outside, given its dominance of the democratic space? And how strong are the G7 governors to withstand the onslaught that would likely follow their move?

The above are some of the questions that the aggrieved governors would have to contend with in the days ahead.  In a country where the president can do anything and get away with it; where justice has become that of the highest bidder; where rules are frequently circumvented with reckless abandon; where corruption has reached its peak; and in a country where politics has become a do or die thing, it would be difficult for reason and principles to be the deciding factors in political contests.

I am one of those who believe that the best way of defeating the PDP is if the battle is fought from within. That, in my view, is perhaps the easiest way of decimating its structures, making it weak and, by extension, vulnerable. We all saw how jittery the presidency and its top leaders were when the G7 governors walked away from the mini-convention venue. We saw how the PDP leaders were measuring their statements not to hurt the chances of peace; yet we all saw how happy Nigerians were to see the invincibility toga of the PDP demystified.

Besides, it is doubtful if the threat of expelling them from the party would come to fruition going by the party’s constitution and the political capital the party would lose if they continue to push for their punishment. However, ironically, the PDP that told the G7 governors to leave has suddenly come to the realization that since they are mostly from the Northwest geo-political zone, their exit might affect the political fortune of the President in 2015. And that is why, presumably, the party has turned around to accuse the APC of trying to woo its governors.

The APC, a party that is full of egg heads and experienced politicians, may, however, have its own game plan. And part of it is to convince the Northwest governors, most of whom, for now, have the population to decide elections in the country, to come to their side of the fence. If they succeed in doing this and given the likelihood that the APC is going to do well in the Southwest states, then the presidential race is going to be tight. For sure, it is in the interest of the country’s democracy and future to make sure PDP does not remain a dominant party in 2015.

Thus, as the G7 governors continue their consultations on their next line of action, the onus is on politicians to come to the realization of this truism and be more pragmatic. Days of being opportunistic should be gone by now. To effectively challenge the dominance of the PDP in 2015 cannot be a tea party and now it’s the time for them to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Upshot, a political column that has been regular on this page in the last three years, would be rested for now. I want to thank esteemed readers for their constructive criticisms on my stand on issues that affect this great nation of ours.

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