HOW G5 GOVERNORS OUTWITTED ATIKU’S CAMP TO MAKE MAKINDE NGF DEPUTY CHAIR
The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Tuesday night picked Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, governor of Kwara state, as its next chairman to succeed Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the outgoing governor of Sokoto state.
But the intrigues that led to the choice of Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo state, as the deputy chairman of one of the most influential power blocs in Nigeria virtually went under the radar.
Abdulrazaq is of the All Progressives Congress (APC), while Makinde is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Abdulrazaq, who is believed to be the preferred choice of Bola Tinubu, the president-elect, got the support of most of the 28 outgoing governors, especially those who hope to play a role in the incoming administration.
Abdullahi Sule, governor of Nasarawa state, was also reportedly interested in the chairmanship position but did not secure enough support and Abdulrazaq was unanimously elected.
The real intrigues, however, surfaced in the choice of Makinde, a member of the PDP group of five (G5) governors, as the deputy chairman.
Before the meeting, there were moves by some pro-Atiku Abubakar governors to nominate Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, for the position.
The G5 — led by Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, with Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikepazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Makinde as members — formed a major opposition to Atiku in the 2023 presidential election and were believed to have contributed to the defeat of their flag bearer.
The war continued on a low-key level at the NGF meeting but insiders told TheCable that Makinde vs Obaseki was clearly going to be a no-contest.
“Most of the APC governors were with the G5 while two PDP governors were also going to support Makinde. It became glaring that the pro-Atiku governors were about to fight a lost battle, so they quietly jettisoned their move,” a governor who attended the meeting told TheCable.
The G5 governors, which came out of the Integrity Group of the PDP, became the centre of media attention in the party after Atiku won the party’s presidential primary election in May 2022.
Prior to the primary election, there were demands by party stakeholders who formed the Integrity Group that the presidential ticket be zoned to the south in line with the rotation system in the party’s constitution.
The agitation was further heightened since President Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner from Katsina, is in power and will soon complete his second term in office.
Following Atiku’s victory, the G5 demanded the resignation of Iyorchia Ayu as the national chairman of the party.
The governors based their argument on the premise that the party’s presidential candidate and chairman cannot hail from the same region. But Ayu stayed put and as a result, the G5 governors abstained from the PDP presidential campaign activities.
Although their precondition to supporting Abubakar was that Ayu should resign, insiders informed TheCable that the governors wouldn’t have backed the former vice-president even if the PDP chairman had relinquished his position — their grievance being that the party ditched zoning.
Wike had contested in the primary election but came second to Atiku. While Wike and Makinde were said to have secretly worked for Tinubu, Ortom on the other hand publicly endorsed Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP).
Wike and his allies finally had their way when in March when Ayu was suspended by his ward over alleged anti-party activities.
A federal high court in subsequently barred him from parading himself as the party’s chairperson.
Notwithstanding Ayu’s removal, the crisis in the party has continued to rage on with no end in sight