A report by The Nation indicates that ahead of the election of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors have endorsed their Ekiti state colleague, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and dumped Kaduna state governor, Nasir el-Rufai.
Already, there are signals that El-Rufai may back out of the race as the contest will hold on Wednesday, May 22 in Abuja. NGF has produced six chairmen in the last 20 years of Nigeria’s democracy. The south-west, north-east and south-east have not chaired the NGF. Most PDP governors are said to be uncomfortable with El-Rufai because of his derision of the opposition and hard line on some national issues, especially from the religious perspective.
El-Rufai is seen by some PDP governors as one of the architects of the defeat of the opposition party in the last general elections. A PDP governor said: “We have decided not to support El-Rufai as the next chairman of the NGF because his temperament is not good enough for this office. He is a courageous, brilliant and smart individual but if he leads NGF, his caustic comments can create discontent among us.
“Also, he has a headmaster instinct, which does not fit into a forum where we are all colleagues. Since Fayemi has indicated interest, we prefer him as a moderate.” Another PDP governor said: “The Kaduna governor does not care a hoot about PDP, a party which provided him the opportunity to climb up leadership positions. He has derided us during the campaign; we will pay him back in his own coin.
”The outgoing NGF chairman, Abdulaziz Yari, has set a template of dialoguing with the presidency for interventions, including the latest N649.43billion and we need another governor who can continue. “We don’t want any NGF chairman who will use the forum as a platform for 2023 general elections. We respect El-Rufai, but we won’t give him this opportunity.”
An outgoing APC governor said: “We want to go into the NGF election united, unlike the case in 2011 when we had a split among ourselves. The APC governors are already building consensus too around Fayemi. “The ongoing talks may lead to the withdrawal of El-Rufai from the race, more so a governor from Northwest has just ended his tenure as NGF chairman. Equity demands that the office should be conceded to another geopolitical zone.
“I think the candidature of Fayemi is more acceptable to both APC and PDP caucuses. He is also a ranking governor in our midst.” Meanwhile, a group, Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide has warned Governor El-Rufai to desist from acts that could earn him disgrace from the Yoruba nation. The council’s president, Aremo Oladotun Hassan, said the statement credited to El-Rufai saying he would teach Lagosians how to end godfatherism was “abysmally insulting.” Hassan who was addressing journalists in Lagos on Tuesday May 7, queried why the governor would leave his state, which is under intense insecurity and fears, and “utter such seditious statement in a Yoruba land.”