South-East Governors’ Forum: Reality or Illusion? Amidst Regional Challenges

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Questioning the Existence of the South-East Governors’ Forum: A Closer Look

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Doubts linger over the actual existence of the South-East Governors’ Forum (SEGF), raising concerns about its effectiveness in addressing common regional challenges. Despite being envisioned as a platform for collaborative efforts among the five states in the region, tangible outcomes such as joint projects or regular meetings remain elusive, leaving many to question its purpose.

One of the primary expectations from the forum is concerted action to tackle pressing issues like the security crisis in the region. However, the absence of such collective endeavors has left residents disillusioned with the forum’s efficacy. Former governors Peter Obi and Theodore Orji are remembered for their leadership, but the forum’s relevance seemed to wane thereafter, especially during the eight-year tenure of former Governor Dave Umahi.

Criticism from Civil Society and Experts

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) expressed deep disappointment in the governors’ failure to unite and address regional challenges. They criticized the governors for allegedly neglecting security concerns and accused them of compromising the region’s security by collaborating with external forces. Intersociety’s scathing remarks underscore the growing discontent with the SEGF’s performance.

Professor Obasi Igwe, an emeritus professor of Political Science, echoed similar sentiments, highlighting the governors’ susceptibility to external influences and their prioritization of personal interests over the public good. He lamented the lack of unity among the governors, citing electoral legitimacy issues and potential legal troubles as impediments to collective action.

Mixed Perceptions and Calls for Improvement

Chukwuma Okenwa, Executive Director of LEAD Network Africa, questioned the tangible existence of the SEGF, suggesting that it exists more as a concept than a functional entity. He emphasized the need for a fully operational Secretariat to facilitate effective coordination and policy formulation.

In contrast, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, former Chairman of Nigeria Economic Summit and Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s Igbo Business Leader’s Council, acknowledged some governors’ willingness to collaborate for the region’s development. However, he stressed the importance of enhanced functionality and active engagement to achieve tangible outcomes.

The African Democratic Congress (ADC) urged South-East youths to pressure the governors into organizing themselves effectively to address regional challenges. Meanwhile, the Igbo Elders and Achievers Forum rated the governors poorly for their perceived lack of coordination in addressing insecurity and promoting peace and development in the region.

Conclusion

The SEGF’s effectiveness and relevance remain under scrutiny as stakeholders question its ability to address pressing regional issues. While some express hope for improved coordination and collaboration, others criticize the forum’s perceived inefficacy. Moving forward, concerted efforts from both governors and stakeholders are essential to revitalize the SEGF and fulfill its intended purpose of fostering regional development and unity.


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