President Goodluck Jonathan and South-west governors Tuesday night met over the nomination of the 15 ethnic delegates to the National Conference and protested the nomination of persons from their respective states.
According to presidency sources, the governors who attended the meeting with their protest letter had reminded the president that during the last council of state meeting, he had promised to allow them coordinate the nomination of ethnic delegates to the conference.
They were however shocked to note from the final list of persons nominated to the conference that they were neither informed nor consulted, a move they considered a slap on their offices as governors of their respective states. To this end, they presented their protest to the president, accompanied by a letter.
Responding, the president was said to have admitted that he only told them to coordinate the process and not nominate persons to the conference and that nothing had changed in the view of that understanding.
One after the other, the South-west governors allegedly presented their cases. While Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State was said to have protested the neglect of the Aworis as major stakeholders in the state, his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, protested the non-nomination of anyone from his state even as the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, protested the non-recognition of the Yewa people from the state.
Following their presentation, Jonathan, who was said to have been concerned at some of their claims, had summoned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, with a view to finding a lasting solution to the situation.
Although what they arrived at is yet to be discussed, the governors, presidency sources said, went home impressed and hopeful of a positive showing at the end of the day.
But the presidency source said the problem with the governors was that they wanted to get rid of the Afenifere leaders, whose nominations did not go down well with them from their respective states. He however doubted the fact that the president would pander to the governors at his detriment.
Another source close to the governors established the grounds of the governorsâ€™ demand against the fact that as the elected representatives of their people, they were constitutionally required to make such nominations in the interest of their people and that the realisation of that fact may have informed the presidentâ€™s decision to involve the SGF in the matter.
Meanwhile, a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a prominent Nigerian from Ekiti State, Chief Afe Babalola, has turned down his nomination as one of the eldersâ€™ to the conference by the federal government on personal grounds.
This was said to have been made known at the meeting when Fayemi presented Babalola’s letter where he had stated the reason for turning down his nomination to the conference.
The president was said to have seen reason with Babalola and had begun to consult with stakeholders, including the governor on how to find a suitable replacement for him.
Although the presidency source said the South-west governors appeared like they had other issues they had wanted to discuss with the president, the presence of the ministers from the zone may have prevented them from presenting such issues.
Some of the South-west ministers present at the meeting included the Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro; the Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Abduljelili Adesiyan; Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Ms. Jumoke Akinjide; the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobolanle Johnson; and the Chief of Staff, General Oladehinde Arogbofa.