The Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola and his Ekiti State counterpart Dr. Kayode Fayemi have declared that indeed the idea of the proposed National Conference may be good but certainly should not be priority for Nigerians.
Both men responded to the questions of whether the nation indeed needs a national dialogue while appearing as guests on Channels Television’s weekend breakfast show, Sunrise live from Sokoto.
The governors who were in Sokoto to attend the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Retreat preferred to stick to the position of their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the issue. They reiterated the position that it is good to talk but the timing may be inappropriate.
“There are some things that people say that really for me are not the central issue. The terminologies – sovereign, let’s talk; but ultimately let the people decide. If we are going to have a constitution that says ‘we the people’, then the people must have a stamp of authority on it.” Governor Fayemi said.
Governor Fashola on his part said “if we are listening to what our people are saying and we think that that approximates to a demand for a new constitution, perhaps we should stand back and look again.”
“Do people want a better document or a better life? In my view, what they want is a better life. A better life approximates to electricity, good roads, water, food and healthcare. You don’t need to discuss how to build roads; the contractors are there, find the money and give it to them.”
“Truth be told, when people begin to get prosperous, the body of science out there is that they get less violent, because they begin to look at how to keep their prosperity and therefore there will be some sense of calming down.”
The Governors also shared their opinions on the controversies trailing the election of the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum. Both men condemned the situation, with Governor Fashola referring to it “as a joke that has gone on for too long”.
Governor Fayemi said that the situation has caused people to have erroneous impressions about the Governors “even an ordinary election they couldn’t hold, so how do you then expect a normal national election to go smoothly?”
He further said “our responsibility is to restore respectability to the office that God and our people have given us the opportunity to hold.” He stressed that Governors are critical authorities in Nigeria and what they do and how they project themselves also is indicative of how the country generally sees rule of law, good governance and accountability.
“Is this the forum of governors or is it the presidential forum for governors?” Fayemi asked.
Governor Fashola also spoke on the Nigerian electoral process with the 2015 general elections in view. While acknowledging that Nigeria has greatly improved since 1999, he expressed disgust at the manner in which elections are still being handled in Nigeria. He called on politicians to take on the spirit of sportsmanship.
As a first time visitor to Sokoto State, Governor Fashola also commended the State Government for the visible development and infrastructure in the state. He highlighted the beauty of the state and the educational trip the governors have made to Sokoto as the kind of story that should be heard about the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.