Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi on Wednesday lamented the crisis rocking the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and then threw a bombshell: 2015 elections may end up like that of the NGF.
“Let me put it on record that the way things are going, 2015 elections will end in this manner where people will win democratic elections and those in power will not accept the results,” he said at a stakeholders’ symposium on the review of the 1999 Constitution in Abuja.
Amaechi, who won the May 24 NGF election in Abuja, wondered why some people would be backing Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State, who contested against him and lost.
Amaechi described Jang and his supporters as non-democrats and accused the Nigeria Bar Association of losing its voice by failing to condemn the actions taken by Jang and his supporters after the NGF poll.
President Goodluck Jonathan is the major supporter of the Jang faction of the NGF and Amaechi’s outburst appeared to the audience to be mostly directed at him (the President).
Amaechi, who said he had been trying to avoid the microphone because of too many problems in the country, told the gathering that since he had been made to mount the rostrum, he was ready to make “headlines.”
First, he blasted the NBA, then Jang and the “government that supports him”. Amaechi described himself as the authentic NGF chairman, saying that what Jang was leading was a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum.
The governor said, “The NBA cannot afford to lose its voice, but you have lost your voice. For the NBA to see a free and fair election, where 35 governors who govern 35 states in the nation, who make decisions for hundreds of millions of Nigerians, for NBA to say that ‘if they can’t organise themselves dissolve,’ you have lost your voice.
“I say it and I want to be put on record that anybody who supports the Jang group is undemocratic.
“Before that the NGF election, we chose who will be the returning officer , we appointed our director-general to be the returning officer and we voted.
“Everybody voted. Everybody, including Jang. Jang was even among the first persons to vote.
“When I won my brother from Akwa Ibom State(Godswill Akpabio) stood up and said, ‘there’s a document I have where 19 governors have signed for us.’
“And Jang says the Northern States Governors’ Forum supported him. Which Northern governors? They should have voted for him. He also said the PDP governors supported him before the election, then the PDP governors should have voted for him.
“What you have that Jang is leading is another faction of the PDP Governors’ Forum, not the NGF.
“Anybody, whether NBA or government that supports Jang’s faction is undemocratic.”
He urged Nigerians and the judiciary to rise up and defend their rights.
Amaechi said, “My Lords, you must defend our democracy and Nigeria. We don’t have any other country anywhere else, the only country we have is this.
“We must be prepared as a people to defend our rights; we must be prepared as a people to hold government accountable. We must be prepared as a people to demand accountability.”
Amaechi urged Nigerians to resist a situation “where non-government officers that have no public function can order the Inspector-General of Police to change commissioners of police.”
The governor, who stated that it was not proper for the President to appoint commissioners of police, said there was the need for state police to be included in the ongoing constitution review.
Apparently referring to his problems with the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Amaechi said, “You were talking about state prisons and state police. We don’t have state prisons; we don’t have state police.
“A situation where governors are left helpless and hopeless because somebody here in Abuja determines who becomes my commissioner of police, and tells him what to do, and he makes the city uncomfortable and ungovernable, is not the kind of constitution that I will want to support.”
Although Amaechi’s insistence on being the authentic NGF chairman was corroborated by Niger State Governor and Chairman of the N S G F , Babangida Aliyu,on Wednesday, Jang dismissed the Rivers State governor’s claim that he (Jang) was leading a faction of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
Jang, who spoke through the Sole Administrator of his NGF faction secretariat, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu, wondered if Amaechi was leading the opposition governors forum.
Onaiwu said, “The governors of Ondo and Anambra States, Dr. Olusegun Mimimo and Mr. Peter Obi respectively, are they members of the PDP?
“These governors are members of the Labour Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, yet Amaechi is saying we are leading a faction of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
“Is he not a member of the PDP himself? The Governor of Kano State, Dr. Rabiu Kwakwanso nominated Jang for the position. Is he not a member of the PDP as well?
“The Governor of Akwa Ibom State is the chairman of the PDPGF. If Jang is leading a faction of the PDPGF, which faction is Amaechi leading? The opposition governors’ forum?”
But Aliyu said at the turbaning of his Deputy, Ahmed Ibeto, as the Wali Raya Kasar Nupe and the PDP Chairman in the state, Abduraman Enagi, as Sardauna Ayuka Nupe by the Estu Nupe Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, that Amaechi won the NGF election.
Aliyu, who also gave insight into what happened during the NSGF meeting ahead of the NGF poll, maintained that no Northern governor betrayed anybody.
He said, “Many people have been asking why governors could not unite to elect a leader. But my answer is that we were united and we elected a chairman. If anybody recognises another person as a chairman, the onus is on us to solve our problem. We must recognise Governor Amaechi as NGF chairman”.
“Governor Jang emerged as a candidate from the north after the NSGF discovered that there was an issue between Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda and the Kastina State Governor Ibrahim Shema.”
He said the NSGF intervened and agreed that Jang should contest. I told them that we must go and insist on consensus but in a situation where election took place, the conscience of the people prevailed”.
Aliyu added, “Thirty-five governors voted. Nineteen voted for one candidate and 16 for a particular candidate. Those who go around destroying reputation should just bury their hatchets.”