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NGF Chairmanship: Northern PDP Governors Dump Amaechi, Shema

| March 3, 2013 More

Govenor Rotimi Amaechi

•Seek consensus candidate

By Chuks Okocha

Governors elected on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party from the northern states may have finally dumped the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, after several weeks of bickering over the headship of the forum when his tenure ends in May.

The northern states’ PDP governors also rejected the presidency’s choice for the NGF chairmanship, Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, in favour of a neutral candidate ahead of the election in May to choose a new chairman.

This was as the chairman of the newly-formed PDP Governors’ Forum, Governor Godswill Akpabio  of Akwa Ibom State, took heavy fire from his colleagues over his comments that he was on a mission to cleanse the “Judases and traitors” within the NGF.

Governors of the 36 states of the federation have been divided over the leadership of their forum following President Goodluck Jonathan’s indisposition to the continuation of Amaechi as the forum’s chairman. An attempt by the pro-Jonathan governors to remove Amaechi during a meeting of the forum on February 20 failed, as most of the governors sided with the Rivers State governor. But the problem assumed more complicated proportions four days later, when Akpabio emerged chairman of a new splinter group in the NGF, PDP Governors Forum. It was formed during a meeting between Jonathan and the PDP governors, held at the instance of the president at the State House, Abuja.

The formation of the PDP Governors’ Forum was an obvious measure to cut the ground from under Amaechi’s feet ahead of the NGF election, where most of the governors were thought to be readying to re-elect him.

THISDAY gathered that the northern governors’ decision to abandon both Amaechi and Shema was to avoid open confrontation with Jonathan, who already has a position on the choice of a new chairman for the forum.

At a meeting on Wednesday in Abuja, attended by Shema and the governors of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamako; Kebbi State, Usman Dakingari; Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako; Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda; Kogi State, Idris Wada; and the deputy governor of Gombe State, the northern governors resolved to present a candidate that would be acceptable to the larger body of governors.

The meeting took place at the Benue State Governor’s Lodge, but the state governor, Gabriel Suswam, was not present. Suswam was said to have excused himself and left the meeting when the northern governors in attendance, who were all Muslims, except him, appeared to be preparing to hold their afternoon prayers and requested to conduct the prayers together at the venue.

It was learnt that as Suswam left his colleagues to enable them keep their religious obligation, the prayer session was turned to an impromptu political meeting where a decision was taken not to support Shema, who was also there.

The northern governors in attendance promptly conveyed their decision to Shema. According to a source, it was Darkingari who informed Shema of the position of the governors before he was asked to briefly excuse them. The source said the northern governors also took a decision not to support Amaechi.

A governor who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity said, “Basically, many people have read different meanings into why the governors did not elect a new chairman last Monday. The truth of the whole matter is that some of us, the northern governors, believe that because of the crisis and controversy so far, it is not in the interest of the forum to openly support the candidacy of Governor Ibrahim Shema or support the continued stay of Governor Amaechi as the chairman.

“Common sense tells us that both of them should go for a governor that is not biased to be elected to become the new chairman, if the forum is to continue to have its respect among the governors, particularly, the non-PDP governors.

“PDP has the highest number of governors and, therefore, it would be fair not to do anything that would suggest that the presidency has hijacked the forum.”

He said it was to preserve the dignity of the forum that the governors were seeking to present a consensus candidate, explaining that it was “first to calm the tension in the polity and, secondly, to allow the incumbent to complete his two years tenure as chairman.”

The governor also said that some of his colleagues were already reaching out to Amaechi to persuade him not to present himself for re-election, though he is entitled to re-election.

“What some of us are doing is to provide a situation of no victor no vanquished for both the presidency and Amaechi. The presidency is biased in supporting Shema against Amaechi, therefore, the best way out is to ensure that both of them are eased out through a consensus candidate that is acceptable to the forum.

“PDP has the highest number of governors and in the history of the forum, we have never subjected ourselves to election of our chairman so far and it is not in the interest of the governors to do so now. This is why some of us are canvassing for a consensus chairman,” the governor disclosed.
He also said Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State was reaching out to the other opposition governors to support the quest for a consensus candidate, while the same idea is being pushed among the South-west governors.

“We hope that between now and May when the election to choose the chairman of the forum would hold, a consensus governor from the north would have emerged as the chairman. Already, the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum is from the South-south state of Akwa Ibom and it would not be fair to have the chairman of the forum coming also from the same zone.

“The appointment of Akpabio as chairman of the PDP governors is a tactical coup against Amaechi because two of them are from the same zone,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the remarks by Akpabio describing his mission as one to weed “Judases from the governors’ forum” are causing disaffection among the PDP governors. One of them, who pleaded anonymity, told THISDAY that the comments by Akpabio were counterproductive.

He said, “We have been receiving telephone calls among ourselves. We are asking, who are the Judases that Akpabio is talking of. If is true that he said that, then it is a careless talk and in the next meeting of the PDP governors, it will be part of the agenda. Some of these talks tend to overheat the polity and, therefore, cannot be tolerated.”

Category: Bauchi State News

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