The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has accused the Federal Government of being behind the failed plot to stop last Thursday's meeting of opposition governors in the terror-stricken Borno State.
The party, in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, alleged that the Federal Government worked clandestinely to abort the trip of the state governors who attended the meeting in Maiduguri, the state capital, under the auspices of the opposition parties' coalition, All Progressives Congress (APC).
ACN's allegation is coming ahead of a joint meeting of APC governors and merger committees scheduled to take place tomorrow in Abuja.
The meeting is targeted at harmonising the positions of the merging parties ahead of Wednesday's submission of report on the manifesto and constitution of the coalition party, and to ensure that all its leaders speak with one voice on issues relating to the opposition coalition.
THISDAY learnt that a few days prior to the meeting in Maiduguri last week, the 11 governors who attended the gathering were in possession of a security report advising them against making the trip because they might be attacked by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram.
During the meeting, multiple bomb blasts rocked Maiduguri, close to the Government House, venue of the governors' meeting, during which three soldiers were killed and three others were injured.
One of the governors told THISDAY at the weekend that the security report given to the governors was presented as if the state director of the State Security Service (SSS) generated it, but they knew that the report was from the SSS headquarters in Abuja.
He said this was what informed their decision to visit one of the markets in Maiduguri where they interacted with the people in order to assure them that they would rally round the state government in fighting insecurity in Borno and to let the Federal Government know that they would not allow the insecurity to cow them.
The ACN said in its statement that by their action, the governors had reassured the people of Borno and Yobe States, which are the most affected by the Boko Haram attacks, that their compatriots have not abandoned them to their fate.
The party said the Federal Government's failed attempt to scuttle the trip to Borno showed that it is perpetually driven by fear, either as it pertains to Boko Haram or the coming together of progressive forces under the APC.
It said the visit had also exposed the baseless fears of the Federal Government whose officials had failed to show that the Boko Haram crisis was not just a problem of a section of the country, but a national one.
While commending the progressive governors for defying "the scare-mongering tactics of the Federal Government to visit Borno State last week," ACN said their action had boosted the country's unity and struck a blow to the anarchists.
"There can be no better assurance of solidarity and support for the beleaguered people of the states affected by the Boko Haram crisis than to see leaders from various parts of the country walking - without donning bulletproof vests and helmets - on the open streets of a city that has been described as the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency.
"It does not mean the crisis does not exist, but it sends a strong signal to the insurgents that they have only succeeded in cowing a very few, not all Nigerians and that indeed under a purposeful APC government the conflict will in no time become history," ACN said.
The party explained that the message conveyed to the Federal Government and to President Goodluck Jonathan in particular by the visit was simple: "No part of Nigeria should be a no-go area, especially for the President and the Commander-in-Chief."
It added: "Part of the reason this needless Boko Haram crisis has festered is that the president in particular has failed to show leadership.
"By staying away from the affected parts of the country since the crisis started in 2009 for fear of his personal safety, and also receding behind the safe walls of the Aso Rock fortress to celebrate independence anniversaries, the president has unwittingly emboldened the anarchists who have killed and maimed thousands.
"When presidents in other land defy terrorists, it is not that they don't care about their own safety, they simply want their compatriots to know that whatever fate befalls them is shared by their leaders.
"That was why (former) President George W. Bush of the US flew to Iraq in the heat of the insurgency there and President Barack Obama also of the US travelled to Afghanistan even amid threats.
"By the way, both places are thousands of kilometres from the United States!"
According to the ACN, if it is true, as reported, that Jonathan now plans to visit Borno this week, for the first time since the crisis started in 2009, it then means he has been waiting for such a visit of the progressive governors before deciding whether or not it is safe for him to visit.
"The PDP and the government it controls at the centre have been cowering under the sheets at the prospect of the emergence of the APC, not minding the bold front they have been putting up.
"They have labelled a yet-to-be formed party as a cult. They have denigrated the group, playing on its acronym. They have put over a dozen of their state governors and legislators under security watch for fear they may escape to the APC.
"This is all the PDP and Federal Government have been doing, while neglecting the act of governance.
"They have forgotten that in a democracy such as ours, freedom of association is guaranteed by the constitution. They have forgotten that our country is drifting and needs to be saved by people of like minds who are ready and willing to jettison personal ambitions for the general good, not those who are driven by blind ambition, personal considerations and myopic tendencies," the party said.