POLITICS: Several governors from two of Nigeria’s geo-political zones have disclosed how Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State reemerged as the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum in a highly dramatic and widely watched election earlier today.
Mr. Amaechi’s reelection has rattled President Goodluck Jonathan who, one Presidency source disclosed, called Governors Godswill Akpabio, Peter Obi, Segun Mimiko and Jonah Jang from Ethiopia and charged them to do everything within their power to ensnare the outcome in controversy in order to delegitimize the results.
The four pro-Jonathan governors subsequently released a document claiming that 19 governors voted for Mr. Jang. The document did not state when the so-called voting was conducted. At a press conference called by Mr. Akpabio and attended by Governor Jang, the latter did not utter a word about his purported victory. Instead, Mr. Jang was glum and had a blank, vacant look.
According to SaharaReporters, a source at the Presidency said that, before traveling to Ethiopia, President Jonathan had collected the signatures of 19 governors, including the governor of Yobe, with the aim of wresting the Governors’ Forum post from Mr. Amaechi. But at today's meeting where the election took place, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe was conspicuously absent. One of the governors told SaharaReporters that the Yobe governor decided not to attend the meeting because he detests Mr. Jang's sectarian fanaticism.
Our sources, who detailed the coalition that handed Mr. Amaechi a victory, told Saharareporters that 19 governors voted for the Rivers governor who has been locked in a major political dispute with Mr. Jonathan. The pro-Amaechi governors were those of Imo, Ekiti, Edo, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Adamawa, Borno, Osun, Jigawa, Kano, Nasarawa, Niger, Kwara Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara and Sokoto. Mr. Amaechi also voted for himself, securing reelection.
Our sources disclosed that the governors of Bauchi, Benue, Gombe, Taraba, Kogi, Plateau, Ondo, Kebbi, Katsina, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Kaduna and four others voted for Mr. Jang, the president’s candidate.
Our sources painted a portrait of some dramatic developments ahead of today’s voting. According to Sahara Reporters the pro-Jonathan group adopted Governor Jang as their consensus candidate following a decision by a few Northern governors and some members of the PDP’s Governors Forum to pick a flag bearer outside of Governors Ibrahim Shema of Katsina and Isah Yuguda of Bauchi. The Jonathan group believed that Mr. Jang would seem less contentious. They also tipped Governor Mimiko of Ondo as Mr. Jang’s side kick in the hope of swaying some governors from the South-West.
Two governors disclosed that the anti-Amaechi group also suggested using “consensus” rather than an election to determine the leader of the forum. “They hoped the ‘consensus’ method would make it possible for them to swing the votes in their favor,” said one governor, adding that most governors insisted on voting.
One of the governors disclosed that Mr. Jonathan’s camp came to today’s meeting confident that they would prevail, since the president had obtained signatures from several governors in advance. But the president’s gubernatorial opponents said they knew Mr. Jang would be vanquished as the election, which was conducted by the secretariat of the Governors’ Forum, began. The forum’s director-general, Ashishana Okauru, was the presiding officer at the election with Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State serving as the returning officer. Pro-Amaechi governors said they were certain of their candidate’s victory since the election was conducted via a secret ballot. “It was free and fair, so we knew that Chibuike [Amaechi] would win,” said one of the governors from the south-west.
After the voting, Governor Uduaghan announced the results, declaring Mr. Amaechi victorious. “All 35 governors present cast their vote and the tally was 19-16 in favour of Governor Amaechi,” one of the governors said. He dismissed Mr. Akpabio’s list of 19 governors for Mr. Jang, laughing that the Akpabio group even included the name of the Yobe governor who was not present at today’s vote.
It remained unclear whether the Presidency would succeed in pressuring Mr. Uduaghan to back away from the results he collated and announced at the governors’ parley.
One of the pro-Amaechi governors said that Mr. Jang’s candidacy was “technically flawed, but we allowed him to run for the sake of peace.” According to him, observance of the forum’s constitution would mean that the picking of nomination forms ought to have ended by midnight on May 23, 2013. He claimed that Governor Jang only sent in a letter indicating his interest in the race around 3 p.m. on May 24, 2013. “It was a breach of our constitution, but Governor Amaechi and some of us decided not to push for Jang’s disqualification,” said the governor.
Another governor said that he suspects Mr. Jonathan would now be hell bent on destroying or dividing the Governors Forum. “He will see the result of today’s election as a vote of no confidence on his leadership,” said the governor, from one of the Northern states. He added: “All I know is [the] majority of governors don’t want the Presidency to be telling us what to do. We were elected just as Mr. President was elected. Let him lead the nation with good leadership effort and allow do the same in our state.”
The source added that Mr. Jonathan and his political associates would likely interpret the loss by Mr. Jang to Governor Amaechi as an indication that the president may lose the PDP’s primary elections to be the party’s flag bearer. “But it is his good governance that will make the party pick him again, not whether he forces Governor Jang to be our chairman,” said the source.
Several governors who spoke to us today said Governors Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, Segun Mimiko of Ondo, Peter Obi of Anambra and Jonah Jang of Plateau of were out to do the president’s bidding at all cost. They accused the governors of seeking to polarize the Governors’ Forum in order to advance President Jonathan’s agenda of neutralizing Governor Amaechi.
“These colleagues are key to President Goodluck Jonathan’s plan to turn Nigeria into Ivory Coast if he does not win in 2015,” said one source.
Write your comment please.