By Emmanuel Aziken
Governor Kayode Fayemi has opened up on why he did not campaign for his party’s governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu saying that his position as chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) ruled him out from opposing an incumbent governor.
Speaking in an interview on Sunday, Dr. Fayemi said that the NGF was a non-partisan body where political bias is not encouraged in its leadership.
Dr. Fayemi had been lampooned by some vested political interests for not coming out to back Ize-Iyamu with some alleging that his action was a carryover of his alleged political differences with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Ize-Iyamu was seriously backed by both Oshiomhole and Tinubu.
Governor Godwin Obaseki won the election on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP following the rejection of his aspiration by the APC, his former political party.
Explaining his position to newsmen in Lagos on Sunday, Dr. Fayemi said:
“I have been accused for example that I was not seen in Edo campaigning for my party or jumping around the rostrum. That is true. One, I have COVID-19 around that time and two, there is`a golden, unspoken rule in the Nigerian Governors Forum which is, the chairman of the Governors Forum does not campaign against a sitting governor”.
“Most people don’t know this but the chairman of the NGF can never campaign against a sitting governor running for election anywhere because my job is to protect, defend and to support a sitting governor whether of PDP, APC or APGA”.
“But the partisan forums, they have no apology about that. The job of Bagudu is to go and campaign for any APC governor running for office and it is the job of Tambuwal to do that for PDP governors. The NGF is about interest or issues that affect governors collectively”.
Speaking on his leadership of the NGF, Fayemi said: “I don’t want to lay claim to having any extraordinary powers. But don’t forget, in the recent history of the Nigerian Governors Forum, I am probably the only chairman that has emerged by consensus”.
“There was no vote. PDP and APC governors agreed that I should be the chairman of the governors forum. PDP governors passionately pushed it as much as APC governors pushed it. So, even those who have it in mind that they will like to run, they immediately backed down”.
“I think that speaks to not just relationship building but also the focus of NGF itself. We are not a partisan body. We have our partisan forum. If you want to discuss partisanship, you go to Atiku Bagudu and Aminu Tambuwal. They are the chairmen of APC and PDP Governors Forum. I go there but I play a low-key role there,” he said.