The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday in Lagos said the 2013 Nigeria Governors’ Forum crisis paved the way for the end of the 16-year rule of the Peoples Democratic Party.
They made the observation during the public presentation of ‘Dynamics of Change: The Amaechi Years,’ a book edited by a former Managing Director of Daily Times, Yemi Ogunbiyi, and author, Chidi Amuta.
They explained that the crisis provided the spark that led to a common sense revolution as witnessed in the defeat of the PDP by the All Progressives Congress.
The NGF crisis erupted from an election organised by the 36 governors of the federation. Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State garnered 19 votes while his Plateau State counterpart, Jonah Jang, had 16 votes.
However, the Presidency chose to recognise Jang as the chairman, thereby causing a split in the forum and the defection of five governors from the PDP to the APC.
Tinubu, in comments at the event, said when the split happened, he quickly wooed Amaechi.
He described the Rivers State governor as the general that the APC used to secure victory during the just concluded general elections.
Tinubu said the APC played on President Goodluck Jonathan’s lack of understanding of Arithmetic to defeat him.
He said, “Governor Amaechi and most of the governors thought of a different arithmetic algebra without derivative. Thirty six minus 16 is equal to X and if X is greater than 16, suggest the answer and if you can’t, you have failed democratic arithmetic.
“Amaechi resisted it and we joined him in the resistance. Of course, how can a leader educate and be responsible for the future of our citizens if he cannot do a division of sum total of a number, 36? We are glad today that we decided and we got rid of that leadership through ‘General’ Amaechi.”
Tinubu stated that his message of a common sense revolution gripped Nigeria and opened their eyes.
He said for instance, the Civic Centre on Victoria Island used to be a dumpsite but the state government sold it to the Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, who turned it into a revenue-spinning machine that now pays tax to the state.
The APC leader said it was the same method that the APC would use in redefining the history of Nigeria.
He said, “We are in this hall because of its good construction. The hall is part of a common sense revolution. It used to be a dumpsite but we asked our friend, Jim Ovia, to excavate it and pay whatever price to the government. He took the risk and it is paying off. It is part of the common sense revolution.’’
The former governor also enjoined all APC stakeholders and other Nigerians to brace for the post-election challenges.
He said, “Elections are over and both the leaders and citizens must brace themselves to meet the challenges required to build a better, more prosperous nation. Indeed, even as we subscribe to the tenets of common sense revolution, we must retool ourselves; the new leadership must embark on policies that will improve the general well-being of our people.
“This revolution is not a violent one to tear things down; it is a revolution to rescue us from violence, injustice and poverty. It is a positive one to rescue, repair and restructure the nation and its institutions in ways that further collective prosperity and well-being. The only violence that is to be done is to violence, injustice and poverty.”
Tinubu said Amaechi, who was the director-general of the APC Campaign Organisation, would be given a key position in the incoming Buhari administration for his role in the party’s victory.
He said what Amaechi and his colleagues in the NGF wanted was a better management of the Federation Account .
The former governor said, “Governor Amaechi and most of the governors want a properly defined federalist relationship with the government at the centre. The President would have none of that as in the notable example of the management of the federation account. This is, therefore, another great opportunity to salute Amaechi’s rare courage of conviction and sense of purpose.
“The APC change agenda is anchored on the three Rs – Reform, Relief, and Recovery. It is the tripod upon which Nigeria must operate in order to unleash her potential.
“Rotimi will go on from here to continue to serve Nigeria in key positions. He will not be alone. He will share the company of many change agents and professionals who have cast their lots with the new political order under the leadership of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari.”
Like Tinubu, Soyinka pointed out that the NGF crisis marked the beginning of the end of the Jonathan administration.
Soyinka said one of his close friends in Aso Rock had urged him to talk to Amaechi to stop attacking the Presidency as his party(APC) would not succeed in defeating Jonathan.
The playwright, who is a notable critic of Jonathan, said the two architects of the APC victory were Tinubu and Amaechi.
He said, “In the political atmosphere today, whatever you call it, change or hope or cautious hope and or careless hope, I recognise two personalities in particular who led the chant of change. One of them, I call him the architect of the process, the architect in fact, that houses the essence of hope Bola Tinubu.
“The other person (Amaechi) was unconsciously, perhaps, the arrowhead of that charge that led to the change and that is the man that we gather here to celebrate.
“He was the one who said no, we cannot turn the clock backwards. Nothing about the philosophy of the clock runs against what we were hoping for. It was a very unpopular and risky decision to take. But it exposed to us the basic arithmetic fallacy of governance in demonstrating that when 16 is said to be higher than 19, something is fundamentally wrong and the same kind of arithmetic leads to the cooking of figures in governance.
“And it was within that nexus that he stood up and challenged even his own colleagues, and said let’s change the mentality of the stock, let us re-orientate it towards the people and towards the nation and the electorate.”
In his remarks, Amaechi said he and Tinubu had disagreements during the electioneering but were able to put their differences aside in the interest of the party.
He said Jonathan destroyed the governors’ forum but expressed joy that with the APC victory, things would return to normal.
He said, “I was determined that there should be a change because if there’s no change, things will not move. Even before our convention, I got Asiwaju Tinubu angry. I went to him and implored that we should not fight or disagree over issues.
“I told him that the important thing was for us to win first and after which, we can disagree. I believe that we must win and make a change. I am ready to make a sacrifice.
“I am proud to be a part of the change process. I am not stubborn but principled. I speak the truth and abide by the rules. In the governors’ forum, we set up a mechanism where we go from state to state to see how the governors were faring, unfortunately, the President scattered the forum.”tweet