Nigerians have questioned the role played by opposition governors at the meeting.
Opposition parties fiercely rebuked Tuesday’s state pardon for former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and a former Managing Director of the Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama, castigating the President Goodluck Jonathan-instigated amnesty as an open invitation to public officials to plunder state resources.
But, for the most part, the president’s notorious decision, which has sparked fury across the country, received the full backing of opposition politicians at the meeting where the proposal was ratified.
At least three opposition governors attended the Council of States meeting where the decision to pardon the two men, alongside half a dozen former military coupists, was taken; and none amongst the governors raised a contrary opinion when Mr. Jonathan put the names up for discussion, sources at the meeting say.
Governors of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun (Action Congress of Nigeria) and Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole (Action Congress of Nigeria) were at the meeting; while Nasarawa state governor, Tanko Al Makura(Congress for Progressive Change), sent in his deputy, Dameshi Luka.
The two parties, ACN and CPC, lead Nigeria’s opposition, and currently are trying to merge into All Progressives Congress, APC.
And more than other opposition parties, the ACN and CPC, often scoff at the many contentious policies of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Nigerians have questioned the role of the opposition governors at the meeting, seeking details of their contributions.
Those informed about the meeting say as the decision to pardon Mr. Alamieyeseigha, a known ally of Mr. Jonathan, convicted of multibillion naira corruption charges in 2005, surfaced Tuesday, the governors, both of the ruling and the opposition parties, as well as past presidents present at the meeting, offered no opposition to the president’s proposal.
After the meeting too, none of the opposition governors spoke officially to the media, stating his position, for or against the decision.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Al Makura Wednesday, the governor said he recognized the decision of the president to grant pardon as his sole right, implicitly defending why he never bothered to challenge the decision.
“The president reserves the right to exercise that powers as provided by the constitution,” a spokesperson to the governor, Iliyasu Yakubu, said.
Spokesperson for Mr. Al Makura’s party, the CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, shared same sentiments.
Mr. Fashakin, a known critic of the administration and the ruling party, PDP, dismissed concerns about what role the opposition played in the run up to the decision setting Messrs Alamieyeseigha and Bulama free.
“The issue is that the full brunt of this decision lies with the president. He is the chairman of the Council of States,” he said.
Mr. Fashakin said it was clear the president wanted the motion he personally sponsored approved, therefore, it would be wrong to make “scapegoats” of opposition politicians.
“I wouldn’t know what transpired at the meeting, but the question we should ask is, ‘Who heads the Council of States, who sponsored the memo? It was a motion sponsored by the chairman, and the deed was done.”
He said it would have been “irresponsible” of the opposition governors, to dissociate themselves by addressing the media after the meeting. “Leaders don’t behave or talk that way,” he said.
Spokesperson for Ogun State Governor, Yusuph Olaniyonu, also denied knowledge of what happened at the meeting.
Repeated calls to Mr. Oshiomhole, the Edo State Governor’s spokespersons, were not answered. But spokesperson for his and Mr. Amosun’s party, ACN, Lai Mohammed, said the party had decided not to comment on the pardon.
“It is the decision of the party not to comment on that issue,” Mr. Mohammed said.
Messrs Alamieyeseigha and Bulama were pardoned alongside former military officers, Shehu Yar’Adua, Oladipo Diya, Abdulkareem Adisa, Bello Magaji, Mohammed Lima Biu and Segun Fadipe.
Nigerians, civil society groups and the U.S. have condemned the pardon.