Jonathan and Amaechi’s Dirty Fight: The Untold Story
The crisis rocking the Nigerian governors’ Forum (NGF) following the convergence of 35 out of the 36 state governors to pick the Chairmaan of the forum still rages as the two governors–Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state and Jonah Jang of plateau state who contested for the chairmanship seat are both insisting that they are the authentic Chairman of the forum.
In the election held on Friday, May 24, Amaechi polled 19 votes, while Jang garnered 16. Some governors, led by Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio, who had earlier secured endorsement for Jang, from the Northern Governors’ Forum, South South Governors Forum and South East Governors Forum, had come out of the meeting to declare that Jang was their chairman.
They had released a resolution purpotedly signed by 19 governors affirming the Plateau governor as NGF Chairman.
Following the disputed victory of Amaechi, the NGF is split. Indeed, since after the election, the polity has been embroiled in crisis. For one, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC), citing Governor Amaechi’s alleged refusal to obey the directives of the state’s chapter of the party to reinstate a council chairman, had bore its fangs. Rising from an emergency meeting, the NWC clamped suspension on Amaechi.
Despite the party’s action, Amaechi appears undeterred. He had gone to court to challenge this and did get an order stopping the PDP from taking further action against him. Meanwhile, Jang has convened a meeting of the NGF, which had in attendant governors in his camp. He had also commissioned a new secretariat as well as visited President Goodluck Jonathan.
Fresh facts on disputed election
Saturday Sun gathered that there was an election on May 24, whose results gave Amaechi victory. Before the election, it was gathered, governors had shouting bouts on whether the election would hold or not. While governors, who supported Amaechi, especially from the opposition political party, insisted there must be an election, others in Jang’s faction wanted an affirmation.
Sources at the meeting revealed that the argument was so intense that some governors, especially in Jang’s camp, contemplated a walkout. Eventually, when it was agreed that there would be an election, the Jang group asked Amaechi to step down, so that another chairman would act as chairman and conduct the election.
It was gathered that Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who had stated, last week, that Amaechi is the duly elected NGF chairman, had persuaded the Rivers State governor to step aside for the election, but he refused. Sources said that one of the governors even moved a motion for the former exco to be dissolved, so that Amaechi would step down, but the Rivers governor remained adamant and asked the Director General of the NGF, Mr. Asishana Okauru, to start distributing ballot papers for the election.
With the ballot papers distributed, the governors were required to tick beside the name of the person they voted for. And Amaechi polled 19 votes, to Jang’s 16.
Some governors and past governor told confirmed that the May 24 election was the first time the chairmanship of the NGF was ever decided with votes. In the past, the governors have always used consensus to decide who would pilot the affairs of the forum.
A governor, who does not want his name in print, stated that past chairmen of the forum had been removed without much ceremony.
He stated: The first chairman of the governors’ forum was Alhaji Adamu Abdullahi of Nasarawa State. The day he was removed as chairman, we had a normal meeting and one governor just said that it was time for Adamu to go. Before you know it, others supported and a change was effected. Akwa Ibom State Governor, Victor Attah, was then made chairman. But the day he was removed, it was more dramatic. We had gone on a recess and were having lunch. Attah went to ease himself in the toilet when someone said that he should be changed. When he returned, the governors present had agreed that Attah should go.
“With Attah removed, Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State was made chairman and he was there for two years. When he handed over to Bukola Saraki of Kwara, it was also by consensus. It was in a meeting in Benin, and Igbinedion just announced to those present that Saraki was taking over from him.”
The governor stated that it was after the change of guards in Benin, from Igbinedion to Saraki, that governors decided to formalise the leadership change. A committee, it was gathered, was set up to study the United States Governors Forum and draft a constitution. Members of the committee include Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, Sullivan Chime of Enugu and other lawyers among the governors.
Sources revealed that the committee adopted the US Governors Forum constitution, which stipulates that the vice chairman of the forum would take over from the chairman, after two years. When this was agreed, it was gathered, Saraki was the chairman, while Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, was vice chairman.
Violation of group’s constitutional provision
Competent sources told Saturday Sun that when it was time for Saraki to step down, in 2011, PDP governors insisted that the NGF chairman must come from the party. This had technically knocked Obi out. However, South East governors were asked to nominate somebody from the zone to take over from Saraki.
Saturday Sun got a letter written and signed by four South East governors, in 2011 nominating Governor Obi as their choice. The letter, signed by Barrister Sullivan Chime (Enugu), Theodore Orji (Abia), Martins Elechi (Ebonyi) and Ikedi Ohakim (Imo), nominated Obi as their choice of NGF chairman and asked the forum to accept it. The letter was addressed to Saraki.
It was gathered that at a meeting in Ilorin, where Saraki was to hand over, seven governors were in attendance as well as six deputy governors. And since PDP South East governors refused to take over, insisting that Governor Obi was their choice, the post was rezoned to South South. And Amaechi was picked.
The re-election saga
If the NGF adopted the US Governors’ Forum constitution, which stipulates one term, political watchers are asking questions on why Amaechi sought re-election. Members of the Governors Jang faction said that the constitution may have been changed without the governors’ approval. According to them, when Amaechi wanted to register the NGF with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), they were told that the constitution needed to be presented. They alleged that the constitution may have been changed to provide for re-elected.
According to one of the governors in the Jang faction: “There was no time governors sat to look at the constitution and okay it. Amaechi told us that the constitution was needed for the purpose of registration of the NGF. Nobody paid much attention, as to the content, since we had agreed that we were adopting the US Governors Forum constitution.”
APC’s role in the matter
Competent sources said that governors in the opposition parties were the ones that ensured that Jang lost in the election. It was gathered that the governors, in Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who are working for the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), agreed that all of them would attend the meeting.
Checks revealed that the meeting of May 24 was the first time 35 states were ever represented in the meeting. In the past, the meeting hardly had up to 15 governors/deputy governors in attendance. And the meeting had always held, since the required quorum is 12.
Political analysts believe that the APC governors have seen the NGF crisis as a way to reap from division in PDP, towards 2015 elections. Leaders of the party are upbeat about winning the presidential election in 2015. They believe that the implosion of the PDP would make this easier.
One of the leaders of APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said in Zaria, where a higher institution honoured him, that with the outcome of the NGF election, Nigerians should imagine what would happen in 2015.
It was gathered that top APC members held social parties to celebrate the victory of Amaechi at the NGF. They interpreted Amaechi’s victory to mean that the PDP leaders are already losing grip, since the party could not get all its governors to speak with one voice.
A leading politician in PDP told Saturday Sun that those celebrating the victory of Amaechi are politically naiïve. He said: “ In the first place, does the yet-to-be registered APC look to you like a party that can survive? Let Nigerians wait until the party produces the presidential candidate before calling it a party. It is like bringing goats, lions and other animals under the same roof. The signs of disagreement are already revealing itself in that party. One of the parties wants to dominate the other and I can tell you that one of the parties is a reluctant partner. They are performing experiment with that party. Most of the parties involved have plan B. They can never trust each other.
“Secondly, when President Goodluck Jonathan declared emergency rule in three states, one of the parties involved in the merger decried it and called on legislators not to support it. The legislators ignored the party and supported the emergency declaration on patriotic grounds. Some of the parties involved in the merger actually publicly stated that they supported it. That tells you that those they bank on are independent minded. They will be disappointed at the end of the day because the PDP has always weathered the storm and all attempts to form one party from many parties failed since independence. Not even the alliance of those involved in the merger can succeed.”
The party chief explained that the inordinate ambition of some PDP governors has made them blind and the party knows details of their treacherous acts of hobnobbing with opposition parties, with the ultimate aim of destabilising the party before defecting. He wandered how those banking on the ticket of APC could hope to secure the ticket.
“Look at it from this angle. You don’t need a prophet to tell you the role of the opposition and the collaboration of some PDP governors after the PDP Governors Forum reached agreement to present Governor Jang as the consensus candidate. When 19 governors reached a consensus, how did 19 become 16? We heard of how governors in the opposition turned themselves to tough guys while trying to subvert the established practice of reaching consensus by the forum. You can imagine the role of those President Jonathan referred to as rascals in the past. The PDP will remain intact?”
The Obasanjo’s interest in 2015 polls
Political observers believe that the NGF crisis has a lot to do with the PDP presidential ticket for 2015. The thinking is that the triumph of Amaechi may make tit difficult for Jonathan to pick the PDP ticket easily. Others believe that Jang’s chairmanship of NGF would make things easy for Jonathan.
However, those who have followed the activities of NGF over the years say that the chairmanship of the forum will not make any difference in the choice of who picks the ticket. They cite the 2011 election when Saraki was chairman of NGF and yet could not get the governors’ support in his bid for the presidency.
As 2015 draws nearer, it is believed that President Jonathan is doing everything to ensure that he picks the PDP ticket. Those in his camp think that he would get the ticket. They point to the fact that all the governors who are with Jang in the NGF are PDP members, while only a few of them in the party are with Amaechi, whose big support base is among the opposition governors.
Feelers from the North, however, indicate that political leaders in the zone want to make a bid at 2015 presidency. In this regard, some politicians from the North have been mentioned as likely contestants in PDP. They include Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, who is believed to be working with Amaechi in this project. Others are Governor Babangida Aliyu and Rabiu Kwankwaso.
It’s believed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is one of those egging Lamido on to vie for the president. He came short of saying this recently, when he eulogised the Jigawa governor, saying: For Sule Lamido however, we found a job for him, he was able, willing and competent to do the job.”
The Amaechi-Jonathan war
The general impression is that the presidency is against Amaechi. Some say that this is why the Rivers governor has been having one problem or another with the authorities. Recently, the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) grounded the state’s aircraft. Not long after that, the court sacked the PDP Rivers exco and members of a faction opposed to Amaechi took over. Last week, Amaechi was suspended by the PDP NWC for his failure to reinstated sacked local government chairman.
Investigations revealed that South South leaders are the ones much angry with Amaechi over his perceived romance with northern politicians towards 2015 elections. Leader of the Ijaw people, Chief Edwin Clark, is one of those not happy with him, but he would not want anybody to say that President Jonathan is fighting the governor.
Clark had told this reporter: “If he (Amaechi) wants to contest for president, he is free to do so as deputy to anybody. It is a free world. But it is wrong to say that the President who is the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces is fighting the Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi. What is happening is that the party in the state had problems. It is an internal problem within the state.”
Former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Solomon Alamieyeseigha, on his part, said that Amaechi should not fight with the president, adding: “I told him (Amaechi) face to face that it is unwise to fight the president because after God, it is the presidency.”
But is President Goodluck Jonathan really next to God in Nigeria? What do you think?
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
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