Majority of the governors elected on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party were conspicuously absent Saturday at a book presentation ceremony packaged to mark the 77th birthday anniversary of party Chairman Bamanga Tukur.
Of Nigeria’s 36 states, the PDP is at the helm of the government in 23, with four opposition parties in charge in the remaining 13.
But of the PDP’s 23 governors, only three – Theodore Orji (Abia), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) and Patrick Yakowa (Kaduna) – managed to make it to Mr. Tukur’s book launch, where organisers had hoped to raise millions, even billions, of naira.
Nigerian governors are notorious for donating huge cash, taken from the coffers of their states, at book launches and party functions. They routinely make the donations even when poverty and unemployment are widespread in their states.
But the governors, most of whom were in Abuja for a scheduled meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, shocked Mr. Tukur by staying away from his book launch.
Governors Jonah Jang (Plateau) and Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), however, sent their deputies to the event.
There had been speculations that all was not well between Mr. Tukur and the governors, who felt slighted that the PDP chairman was imposed on the party by President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the past, the governors had ganged up to enthrone successive chairmen of the party.
Mr. Orji however picked 10 copies of the book for each of his colleagues for an undisclosed amount, while Author Eze, the chief presenter, launched it with N10 million.
The FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, who represented other members of the Federal Executive Council, said that their loyalty to Mr. Tukur amounted to loyalty to the Presidency.
But while the governors were absent, President Goodluck Jonathan graced the event, urging Mr. Tukur to support and mentor political leaders to bring out the best in them.
He said, “In this world, you have an opportunity to support and mentor the leaders of this country as one whom the leaders can see as a father.
“Although you are already standing as one of the most accomplished Nigerians of our time, you are called upon again as chairman of the ruling party to guide political office holders to serve this country in the interest of all,’’ Mr. Jonathan said.
He commended Mr. Tukur for his role in promoting African unity and Pan-African business through the African Business Roundtable and for ensuring the stability of Nigeria in 1994 when it was in a political crisis.
He expressed gratitude to the author of the book, stressing that it was a great service to the country to produce a detailed account of Mr. Tukur for others to learn from.
Mr. Jonathan described Tukur as “a man with fantastic spirit, who symbolises the never-say-die spirit of Nigeria and the trade mark of perseverance in the midst of challenges and obstacles.
“We appreciate you, Mr Chairman, we thank God for your life and we thank your family for staying by you,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mr. Tukur said the occasion was not only significant but very memorable judgment from the UN human development indices, which pegged life expectancy in Sub-Sahara Africa at 52 years.
“I am, therefore, very grateful to my creator and to all for honouring me by your presence. I give today’s glory to Allah for keeping all of us alive to witness today,” Tukur said.
He said the book was an encapsulation of his life as a village boy through national limelight to the global audience.
Mr. Tukur expressed gratitude to his family, teachers, friends and associates, who stood by him through the years and for their contributions in shaping his life.
He also thanked them for developing his thoughts on the society, nation and the environment and promised to continue to share his experiences with all to give back what the society had given him.
He prayed Allah to guide the country’s political leaders to effectively utilise its endowment for the basic needs of the people.
The PDP assured Nigerians that the philosophy of the PDP’s ongoing transformation agenda was in the interest of good governance and the people of Nigeria.
Gov. Theodore Orji of Abia, on behalf of other PDP governors, picked 10 copies of the book for an undisclosed amount, while Chief Author Eze, the chief launcher, launched it with N10 million.
Other governors who attended the occasion were those of Kaduna State and Bauchi State, while Plateau and Katsina states were represented by their deputies.
The book, titled, “The Global Villager”, which is a biography of Mr. Tukur, was written by Eddy Aderinokwu.