Is it possible that, with the examples coming from Gov Ganduje of Kano State, Gov Wike of Rivers State and Gov Zulum of Borno State, the governors’ forum is not all about ambitious individuals, formalities and the siren? At the moment, that is the larger impression.
The point is this. There is no conflict outside its narrative or narratives around it. Although narratives are dependent on its audience for the kind of impact they make, it is a dominant narrative that legitimizes or illegitimates a conflict.
There is, therefore, something exemplary in Kano State governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje’s Independence Day rhetoric on the on-going cycle of recriminations and verbal missiles over sundry contested issues. When a nation is at war with itself as Nigeria currently is, there must be people who should be able to weave a banner of hope and caution restraint. That is best done by people in political offices and/or traditional cum religious leaders because of the communal ethos they embody, warts and all.
That is what Ganduje was doing when he articulated his Independence Day position. To the extent that the meaning of what he said does not reside with him but with his listeners and readers, to that extent does whatever intention drove him does not matter. In other words, the meaning of what the Kano State governor said below has absolutely nothing to do with whether he was driven by a personal ambition or pure patriotism.
Intervention is keen on the following lines out of Gov Ganduje’s speech:
“Governors are elected to unite and not to destroy the country”
“The unity of Nigeria should remain the paramount and unifying factor. Our elite, irrespective of faith, ethnicity and political interest, must unite to build a united Nigeria”.
“The disagreement between the northern and southern governors is not necessary and most unfortunate because governors are elected to build and not to destroy the country”.
“I call on the Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to convey the large house for the purpose of resolving the lingering issues”.
Perhaps, it helps to recall that it was Ganduje who, if the memories serve us right, first stated it openly that open grazing has been overtaken by modernity. That is the kind of statement the world had expected to hear from a modernist minded Nigerian leader ever, ever since even if open grazing had not become a driver of violent conflict in Nigeria.
As we praise Gov Ganduje, so must we praise Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. And this is not because of the need for a balancing game, as important as balancing is in a deeply divided country. Rather, it is all about signification. Governor Wike is not satisfied with the VAT regime in Nigeria. What did he do? He briefed his lawyers and headed for the courts.
That is a perfectly welcome alternative to the option of violent rhetoric and profiling politics resorted to by those who feel that dissatisfaction with the status quo is automatically a license to call for breaking up Nigeria. Even though Nigeria has turned unbreakable because there is really nothing wrong with Nigeria beyond a catastrophic elite failure, the trend is not declining.
Gov Wike has, consciously or otherwise, borrowed from the legacy of the highly qualitative team of governors in the Second Republic who took the same option over Revenue Formula and won. Prof Ambrose Alli and Abubakar Rimi of the old Bendel and Kano states were notable in that fight.
Just one statement yet that certainly, the headlines and graphics and gubernatorial moves from Borno State under Gov Zulum are attracting critical attention beyond him.