The trouble-shooting efforts by five northern governors, all of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to “save the country’s democracy,” which began on July 20, 2013, with a visit to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, may have paid off.
This is so because President Goodluck Jonathan, who seemed unperturbed by the political situation in the country, judging from the comments of his aides, not only invited the five northern governors spearheading the “Save Nigeria’s Democracy,” campaign for “peace” talks, at the weekend, but also had an audience with Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, whose travails appeared to be one of the sources of the current political tension in the country.
Interestingly, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, had, shortly before the governors’ visit to Obasanjo, warned that the Rivers crisis, if allowed to fester, could truncate the country’s democracy. The governors had also visited military President, Generals Ibrahim Badangida and Abdulsalami last Monday in Minna, Niger State, after visiting Obasanjo in Abeokuta.
Indications also emerged that Jonathan was concerned about the dimension the political situation was assuming first emerged last Thursday, when he met with a delegation from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), who visited him to raise similar concern.
Contrary to media reports, however, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State and his Yobe State counterpart, Ibrahim Geidam, were nowhere near the Presidential Villa, Abuja during the meeting, let alone take part in the talks, it was confirmed. This much was attested to by two impeccable independent sources close to the two opposition governors.
But the governors who were at the Villa for the meeting at the instance of President Jonathan were: Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa).
When contacted, Governor Lamido confirmed that he and four of his colleagues were at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Saturday, on the invitation of the President.
He disclosed this at his Abuja residence on Saturday night. This is even as he confirmed that Amaechi had earlier met with President Jonathan, before their own meeting and appreciating Chief Edwin Clark’s statesmanship for offering a public apology to Nigerians, through the media, for what might have been Nigerians’ perceived concerns and anger over his (Clark’s) comments and utterances in recent times.
Asked to comment on Clark’s apology to Nigerians, the Jiagwa governor said: “All I can do is to show my admiration, because in our culture, a younger person cannot commend the older one. Therefore, I want to show my admiration for his statesmanship for offering a public apology to Nigerians for whatever might have been their perceived concerns and anger over his utterances.
“And I also appreciate his genuine concern by saying that all he was saying was not meant to threaten the stability and unity of the country. Therefore, again, I appreciate his genuine concern for the stability and unity of Nigeria, that is how leaders and elders should behave. If elders and leaders will own up to their perceived mistakes, Nigeria will certainly overcome all these transitional concerns and grievances,” Lamido declared.