Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State has taken over the baton of leadership from Kebbi Governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu as the new Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum.
The PUNCH gathered that Uzodinma was elected via consensus during a strategic meeting of the PGF on Wednesday.
Among those in attendance were Governors Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Mohammed Bago (Niger), Uba Sani (Kaduna), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Nasir Idris (Kebbi) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
A few hours after his election, Uzodinma was presented to the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and members of the National Working Committee at the party secretariat in Abuja.
The governors, who arrived at about 5:20 pm on Wednesday evening, went straight into the secretariat for the meeting with the APC leadership.
Addressing the gathering, the Imo State governor expressed delight at his new position and promised not to disappoint his colleagues and the leadership of the party.
Uzodinma also promised to uphold the manifesto of ‘Renewed Hope’ promised to the people of Nigeria.
He said, “There is no doubt that Progressives Governors Forum has been in place before this time and there is no doubt that we are loyal members of our great party. I want to assure you that the APC governors understand very clearly that the government each of us is presiding over belongs to the party and we know both at the federal and sub-national level, the government belongs to APC. It is an APC-led government.
“Under my watch, we will be very close to the party. The purpose of the forum is to have impetus to the activities of the party and the government. We are only going to act as salesmen that will market the policies and programmes of the government. Arising from the manifesto promised to the people before the election, I can assure you that you have a team and working together with the kind of men I have seen as Progressives Governors members, I think we have gotten all it would take to ensure that policies of our government were fully marketed.”
When asked for his take on President Bola Tinubu’s pronouncement that ‘subsidy is gone,’ Uzodinma argued that the former Lagos governor has done nothing unusual.
According to him, it is on record that all the presidential candidates of the major political parties promised during their campaigns that they will remove petroleum subsidy.
“The incumbent government before he left made us know that fuel subsidy is no longer sustainable. What we are talking about now is the implementation process. How to implement the program in a manner that will not be too hard on the people. And I think the government is working on it.
“I have confidence in the ability of the current president to navigate through the waters and take decisions that will be in the best interest of our people and the country as a nation.”
Reacting to the governors’ choice of Uzodinma as the consensus PGF chairman, an excited Adamu called for harmony and collective efforts to ensure the party succeeds at all levels.
While apologising for failing to have a meeting of the governors with the then president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (now president), the APC national chairman begged the delegation to empathise with Nigerians over the sensitive issue of subsidy removal.
He also appealed that they should work towards ensuring that the party manifesto is actualized before they leave office.
“We are in a very difficult moment and you have come at a very difficult period. Even with the timing of the lifting of the fuel subsidy, this is going to be very challenging to us, particularly to you because you are where it matters most. From national politics, you are the shock absorbers in the various states of the federation. You live with the people, wake up and work with them. The expectation is that you could have a better appreciation of their pains as citizens of this country. So, a lot of expectations will be on you as governors of the federating units of this great country.
“As far as the party is concerned, we will give you every cooperation you need. If you have any problem, turn to us and we will give you the best advice we can. But whatever we do with you, you are the one wearing the shoes and know where it pinches.
“Fortunately, you are lucky to have a president who will listen to you. He has come with the same urge, the same desire to deliver. So, you are lucky. But whatever you do, do not forget that you will bear your cross. You will bear your cross. We will not as a party stand in your way of a good programme. If someone does so, please draw our attention so that we will stop it,” he said.