The Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, on Thursday said the era of using governors as “punching bags’’ to score cheap political points in the country was over.

The Head, Media and Public Affairs at NGF Secretariat, Abulrazque Barkindo, stated this in a statement in Abuja.

He said that the governors were signatories to an initiative, Open Governance Partnership, OGP, aimed at improving governance and promoting transparency in governance.

Mr. Barkindo decried the “incessant attacks on state governors’’ by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, saying they were heating up the polity and raising concerns.

He recalled that Mr. Dogara recently tackled the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, where he challenged the governor to make public his salary and security votes “to which the governor obliged’’.

“The governor had earlier demanded that the Speaker should come clean on the expenditures of the National Assembly but instead Dogara published N346.57 as his January take-home,’’ he added.

Mr. Barkindo said that it was obvious that the published amount was barely enough to fuel Mr. Dogara’s official motorcade for the period.

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He cited another instance where the speaker also attacked the Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Ibrahim, claiming that the state had no developmental projects to show for in the governors two years of governance.

He said that the governors wondered if Mr. Dogara was aware of the giant steps being taken by the current set of governors to improve the quality of governance and by implication the quality of life in Nigeria.

“Of course, governors are human and can therefore not be adjudged to be all perfect, but the governorship institution is an integral part of this democracy, just as the House of Representatives.

“If the Speaker continues in this path of disparaging governors, he may ultimately endanger this same democratic process that brought him national prominence.

“It may interest the speaker to note that at the last Governors Forum meeting of April 17, governors agreed to sign into the Open Governance Partnership (OGP).’’

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“The key indices of the agreement include fiscal transparency, anti-corruption, access to information and citizen engagement,’’ he said.

Mr. Barkindo said that the OGP was an initiative of a former managing director of the World Bank which sought to improve governance around the world, adding that Nigeria, under the present administration became signatory.

“Kaduna state has also signed and many more governors, including Mohammed Ibrahim, are positively disposed to it.
“This in summary means that the era of using governors as punching bags to score cheap political points is over.’’

He stated that the problem of non-payment of salaries was not peculiar to states, saying that it was everywhere, from the private sector to the public, including the National Assembly.

Mr. Barkindo advised Mr. Dogara not use salary payment to play to the gallery in his attempt to bring down political opponents but should concentrate on works to be done in the House of Representatives.

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He added that the world was still waiting for satisfactory explanation on how the national assembly utilized over N1 trillion of public resources through the years, and its N115 billion annual budget.

(NAN)