by Stanley Azuakola
Shortly after the visit of the APC governors to Maiduguri, we said that that was one visit which was going to be talked about for a very long time. And we have not been disappointed.
Supporters of the APC claim that the visit of the governors have successfully forced the hand of President Jonathan, who has now confirmed through his senior special assistant on public affairs, Doyin Okupe that he’ll be in Maiduguri this week.
But supporters of the president reject that argument. They claim that President Jonathan had long scheduled his visit and the APC governors somehow became aware of this and planned their visit before his, as a form of political opportunism.
As with most things politics in Nigeria, we may never know the full story.
However, on Tuesday, Doyin Okupe and Niger state governor reacted differently to the visit.
Okupe, who spoke to journalists in Abuja said: “The APC governors’ visit was hurriedly packaged to pre-empt the visit of Mr. President which had been planned and scheduled several weeks ago.
“This is surely an act of crass opportunism and political desperation on the part of these governors and the party they represent.
“We regard that visit as a media circus, stunt and photo-op by these governors who were apparently in Maiduguri to feather their political nests.
“If one may ask, where were these governors in the last 18 months that they had been in office? It is obvious that it is part of their mobilisation drive that took them to Borno State, rather than any patriotic call to duty.
“These are desperate power mongers who flock together in spite of their obvious conflicting political philosophies and inordinate ambitions.
“That visit was borne out of sheer political recklessness and could have caused Nigeria major security embarrassment but for the fact that the Federal Government and its security apparatus took extra efforts to ensure that the visiting governors were safe.
“Being elected officials, the onus was on the Federal Government to ensure that they were safe in spite of their being oblivious of the peculiar security implications and real potential dangers inherent in their hurriedly packaged visit.
“The visit had nothing to do with sympathy, as it was borne out of political recklessness and political grandstanding.
“The Federal Government does not play to the gallery, it is doing what ought to be done.”
Meawhile, the Niger state governor, who doubles as chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF), Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, took a different position from that of the presidency. In his opinion, the visit of the APC governors was courageous.
He spoke while playing host to Major Gen. Baba Gana Mohammed Monguno, the new Commander of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) of the Nigerian Army at the Government House
“I commend some colleague governors who visited Maiduguri some few days ago. Their visit and movement around the city made people understand that things are not as bad as they portrayed it. We at the Northern States Governors’ Forum have set up committees to look at the situation in Maiduguri and we are making progress with the report.
”I heard President Goodluck Jonathan will visit Maiduguri on Thursday. It is a very good decision because with the visit of the President, Maiduguri will be opened to people who have been afraid to visit the place, “the governor said.