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NGF Election: Contending Camps Woo Northern Governors

| May 24, 2013 More

Governor Rotimi Amaechi

  • Niger governor summons northern governors’ meeting today
  • Rivers PDP elders urge Amaechi not to seek re-election


Chuks Okocha and Ernest Chinwo
The 19 northern state governors may hold the aces in deciding who wins tomorrow’s election to emerge the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) as the two camps in the forum have been lobbying them to their sides.

The race for the NGF chairmanship has split the governors with some supporting the re-election bid of the incumbent and Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, while others have lined up behind whomever the presidency, which is seeking to stop Amaechi from getting a second term, fields.

Although Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, is being touted as the candidate of the presidency for the position, it was learnt that he might be dropped at the last second for another governor, possibly from the north-east zone.

Already, the Peoples Democratic Governors’ Forum (PDP-GF)  after several fruitless efforts to pick a consensus candidate for the post, has endorsed Amaechi and Shema for the race.

Ahead of the race, PDP elders in Rivers State yesterday made a last minute appeal to Amaechi not to run, saying his re-election bid is the root cause of the crisis in the state chapter of the party, which has become a threat to law and order in the state.   THISDAY learnt yesterday that the northern governors would decide on whom to back for the position at their meeting today called by the Chairman, Northern State Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu.

The meeting, a source said, would decide on whom to back among Amaechi, Shema and Bauchi State Governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, who is being considered as the proposed consensus candidate for the NGF chairmanship.

It was gathered that the decision to summon the meeting of the northern governors was reached when Benue State Governor, Mr.  Gabriel Suswam and his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Chief Godswill Akpabio, who doubles as the PDP-GF chairman, made entreaties to Aliyu to solicit his support for their candidate.

Suswam and Akpabio are considered the arrowheads of the presidency campaign to install a pro-presidency governor as chairman of the NGF.
But the source said shortly after the duo left Aliyu’s place, Amaechi and his team met with the Niger State governor urging him to rally NSGF members to back the incumbent chairman’s re-election bid.

The source explained that it was to avoid taking a unilateral decision on whom to back for the race that Aliyu decided to summon his colleagues to decide whether to support any of the candidates as a group or that the northern governors should be allowed to vote according to their conscience.

A northern governor that spoke to THISDAY on the matter said: “We are going to the meeting. The chairman has summoned a meeting. We will hear him out, but left to me, everybody should be allowed to vote according to his conscience.  Some of us are calling for a consensus chairman, but this is if other candidates that have indicated interest accept to step down. If they agree to step down, good for the forum; but if not, voting will take place.”

As the lobbying intensified, THISDAY checks revealed that the pro-presidency governors are continuing with the signature drive to ensure a consensus chairman emerges by forcing Amaechi to withdraw from the race.

Though one of the pro-presidency governors claimed that they have more than 24 governors in their camp, a pro-Amaechi governor asked  “If they have gotten 24 governors, why is the rush to seek the support of the northern governors?”

It was learnt that the major obstacle facing the pro-consensus candidate’s camp is whether Shema will agree to step down.

According to the source, “if Governor Ibrahim Shema accepts to step down, then it may be a straight fight between Governor Amaechi and the presidency, which is pushing for a consensus chairman.”

It was however gathered that Shema might not pull out of the race as he has dropped his letter of intent to vie for the NGF chairmanship.

THISDAY learnt that Shema filed his nomination paper after he had gone to see Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, at his Abuja residence on Tuesday where he was formally told that the presidency had dropped him for Yuguda.

A source said Shema left Anenih with the understanding that he would not run again, only for him to submit his nomination paper  Wednesday at the NGF secretariat in Abuja.
His insistence to vie for the post, the source said, had put the presidency camp in disarray.

However, Amaechi came under pressure  Wednesday from the home front not to run for the election tomorrow.

PDP elders in the state urged him not to  seek re-election as the NGF chairman in a bid to quicken the resolution of the crisis in the state chapter of the party.

The elders, under the aegis of the Rivers State PDP Elders Forum, in a letter to Amaechi, dated May 22, said their consultations on how to resolve the current political crisis in the state had shown that the governor’s intention to seek re-election as chairman of the NGF exacerbated the tension in the state.

The letter was signed by the Convener of the forum, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba; the Secretary, Dr. Silva Opusunju;  Chief Anthony Akarolo, Senator Ben Birabi and Chief Maxwell Tasie Amadi on behalf of the forum.
The elders said while Amaechi had the right to seek re-election, he should make the sacrifice of not exercising his right in the interest of the state.

“Since Your Excellency’s emergence as the chairman (and spokesman) of the NGF, your open and frank disposition appears to have generated controversies that are considered inimical to your position as governor and interests of Rivers State in general,” they said.

They  added that Amaechi’s continued leadership of the NGF “will not only aggravate the already volatile political atmosphere but also escalate the threat to peace, security, good governance and development of the state”.

They said it was obvious that Amaechi’s continued leadership of the NGF would not provide the needed political environment that would promote the best interests of Rivers people.
“It is a highly unnecessary distraction that will decelerate your developmental strides and productivity as governor of Rivers state,’ they said.

“Given the above background and with all due respect, it is our most humble opinion that His Excellency should defer to the overall interest of the people of Rivers State and reconsider his decision to seek re-election to the office of chairman of the NGF,” the elders said.

Category: Bauchi State News

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