By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Camaraderie among five Governors of the South east states is waxing strong. The South east Governors Forum suffered paralysis following the exit from office as governor, of its Chairman for eight years, former governor Peter Obi of Anambra state. This magazine learnt that political differences and struggle for the Chairmanship of the Forum among the governors was at the heart of it’s the (Forum) inertia for almost three years.
Sources close to the Forum inform that with the victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the 2015 elections, governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state who was elected in 2011 on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA but defected to the then fledgling APC in 2003, felt he naturally deserved to Chair the Forum on the account of belonging to the party at the centre and being a ranking governor.
Okorocha allegedly frowned at any of the new governors who had just assumed office leading the Forum rather than himself who had been in the saddle since 2011.
However, this move was resisted by other PDP governors prompting Okorocha to snub meetings of the Forum. And for reasons best known to them, the remaining four other governors- Willie Obiano of APGA (Anambra), Okezie Ikpeazu of PDP (Abia), David Umahi of PDP (Ebonyi) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of PDP (Enugu)-also consigned the Forum to the dust bin.
The situation ,The source was informed greatly alarmed prominent Igbo leaders, including past governors who individually talked to the Five Governors on the need for the South east to have a strong, united voice through the South east Governors Forum in order speak on issues affecting the zone.
The leaders, including the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, were rankled when fierce verbal –media war erupted between Obiano and Okorocha early this year and thus vowed that willy-nilly, the governors must come together, and the South east Governors Forum resurrected, irrespective political affiliations of the states helmsmen.
Another round of series of high level meetings between each of the governors and the Igbo leaders,and Ohanaeze Ndigbo were later to unite the governors and reconciled Obiano and Okorocha.It was then agreed that Governor Umahi of Enboyi state will emerge as the new Chairman of the Forum while the Forum’s Secretariat and venue for meetings remain Enugu state Government House, Enugu being the capital of the defunct Eastern Region and now the political capital of Ndigbo .
Since the revival of South east Governors Forum, the governors have met twice. The latest of such meeting was the one held last week where wide-range of issues of interest to the zone was discussed and decisions taken.
Economic integration of the zone, the detention of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, South east infrastructural development among others were some of the issues discussed at the meeting. The Forum then resolved to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to raise the issues, including the continued detention of Kanu.