It has been observed that the Southern governors, though they speak in one voice, there seems to be some disagreement in their forum in regard to issues that have been unanimously agreed on which some of the governors do not agree with. It is arguable to say that as some of the governors like Mr. Hope Uzodinma and Dave Umahi have opposed some decisions on matters of interest in the Southern region, it is obvious that the clamour for a Southern President may remain a noble dream that never happened.
Photo of some Southern governors. Credit: Premium Times.
However, talking about some of the decisions taken by the 17 Southern governors during their meetings that are yet to be implemented while other governors have, there are issues that need to be taken seriously like the ban on open grazing in the region and the issue of the recent laws that allows states (Championed by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike) to collect Value Added Tax (VAT) and more importantly producing the next President of Nigeria. In that regard, the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, seems not to be interested in the implementation of the agreement as reached by the Southern governors.
Gov Hope Uzodinma of Imo State. Photo Credit: Punch
Gov Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State. Photo Credit: Vanguard
However, according to reports from reliable sources, he seems to be taking sides with the President on opening old grazing routes in the country to aide herders movement of their cattle from one part of the country to another.
Again, on the issue of the Igbo Presidency, a report by Peoples Gazette confirmed a statement by governor Hope that his party, the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, was not interested in zoning the 2023 presidential ticket to the South East. According to him, the party is not looking for an Igbo President, but a President of Nigeria. As a matter of fact, it is arguable that governor Hope Uzodinma is not working inline with the agenda and prospects of other governors in the region.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Having said that, we have seen in recent times that the Southern governors seems to be very strategic in making sure that the region produces the next President, and that is evident in the meetings they have had so far. They have also made efforts to create policies that would help the region overcome the overbearing cases of insecurity and insurrections that are killing the economy and peaceful atmosphere in the region.
Against this background, this article seeks to discuss two reasons why there could be a challenge in the forum of the Southern governors forum ahead of the presidential election in 2023.
1. The issue of disagreement is an indication that there may be a crisis in the midst of the Southern governors of Nigeria. The constant disagreement of some Southern governors in regard to important resolution of the forum clearly shows that the 17 governors may soon have a divided camp among them. Hence, it can be argued that the region may not succeed in producing the next President of Nigeria if the governors and other critical stakeholders do not seek common ground in that regard.
Photo Credit: Legit.ng
2. If eventually the presidential ticket from the two popular political parties, the PDP and APC are zone to the Southern region and the South East region is denied the opportunity of fielding a candidate for the position of President. The aforementioned is a strong indication that crisis looms in the Southern governors forum ahead of the presidential election if the South East region that has not produced Nigeria's President since the country returned to Democratic rule in 1999, is pushed aside without being given a chance like the South-South and South West geopolitical zone that have ruled Nigeria.
Photo of Hakeem Baba-Ahmed. Credit: Vanguard
Having said that, the region has what it takes to produce the next President despite the fact that Northerners want to retain power, and this is evident when the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said it may not be a wrong thing for the North to produce the next President of Nigeria. This statement by NEF is a wake-up call to the Southern region and leaders to strategically position the region for the next presidential election.
On a final note, I opined that for the Southern region to avoid any impending doom or crisis, the Southern governors must speak in one voice and in agreement to implement decisions made by the forum for the interest of the southeast region ahead of the 2023 election.
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