To the chagrin of his persecutors, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was re-elected as the chairman of influential Nigeria Governor Forum (NGF) in an election that was characterized by intrigues, suspense and intimidation.
He polled 19 votes to beat his challenger, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau who secured 16 votes.
Announcing the result to newsmen, the Director-General of NGF, Mr Aishena Okauru said 35 governors voted in the keenly contested election, while the Yobe State governor, Ibrahim was the only sbsentee. He affirmed that the election was free and fair.
With deflated ego, the anti-Amaechi governors who are widely believed to be working at the behest of the presidency later converged at the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s lodge to discredit the electoral process that returned Governor Amaechi as the chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State who is the chairman of the newly formed PDP Governors Forum and also the arrow-head of the anti-Amaechi forces said that Governor Amaechi ought to have resigned as NGF Chairman before seeking re-election. According to him, his non-resignation breached the rules. He denied outright that he participated in the election, describing it as a sham. He told reporters that Governor Jonah Jang had been chosen as the new chairman of the NGF following an earlier resolution of the Northern Governors Forum and the PDP Governors Forum. He therefore, distributed copies of a statement entitled. Resolution of Nigerian Governors,” purportedly signed by 19 governors.
The statement reads, “we the undersigned Governors of Nigerian Governors Forum, having taking cognizance of the state of the nation and the perception of Nigerian people do hereby resolve as follows:
That we thank the out-going chairman, His Excellency, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State for his leadership and achievements.
That we strongly agree for a change of leadership of the forum from may 2013 to May 2015.
We hereby, therefore, elect His Excellency, Jonah Jang of Plateau State as the new chairman of the forum.
But the pro-Amaechi group has insisted that all the 35 governors consented to the electoral process which resulted in the re-election of the preferred candidate of the majority of the governors.
Speaking on the outcome of the election, a Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist Femi Falana (SAN) said “The Victory of Governor Amaechi is clear affirmation of the confidence of the majority of the governors in the leadership of their chairman.
“It is hoped that Mr Amaechi will accept the renewed call to service as a challenge to lead the forum to address the increasing wave of poverty, unemployment and insecurity of lives and property in the land.
“Now that the election is over, the governors should close ranks and collaborate with President Goodluck Jonathan to restore law and order in all parts of the country.
“It is however unfortunate that some of the governors who contested and voted in the election have decided to embarrass themselves by challenging the integrity of the exercise. Indeed, the reason adduced for attempting to discredit the election by the camp that lost is childish and bunkum.
“They claim that the election was vitiated because Governor Amaechi did not step down before the race. Did any of the governors who re-contested elections and won in their states step doom before the elections were conducted by the National Independent Electoral Commission?
“In any case, having not complained before the NGF election, before voting for the candidates of their choice, all the 35 governors who took part in the election are deemed to have waived any right to challenge the procedure collectively adopted and agreed upon by them an the voting.
“Therefore, all the governors are estopped from questioning the results of the polls on the basis of the alleged procedural defect.
“In line with the decision of the election petitions tribunals which upheld the election of each of the governors on the basis of substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in their respective states, it is indubitably clear that the election of Governor Amaechi as NGF Chairman was in substantial compliance with the Electoral Rules and Guide-Inies of the NGF.
Reacting to reports in some sections of the media, linking the presidency with the crisis in the Nigeria Governors Forum, the special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati denied the involvement of the presidency in the NGF election.
“Contrary to the impression of presidential partisanship and interference in the affairs of the governors forum erroneously conveyed by some headlines in the media today, President Jonathan who is currently leading Nigeria’s delegation to African Union summit in Addis Ababa had no preferred candidate in the NGF election and could therefore not have been flooned by any other candidate as some newspapers sensationally reported.
“Jonathan trusts that as true democrats and respected national political leaders, members of the Governors Forum will quickly resolve the issues and differences amongst them, which emerged yesterday and continue to contribute effectively to national development as strong and progressive body,” Abati said.
While Abati has done so well to exonerate his principal from the crisis rocking the NGF, political pundits have wondered why the president who has severally expressed his commitment to democratic ideals would feign ignorance of true picture of what transpired in the NGF election. Moreso, there is a video-tape that captured the proceedings of the day.
Again, as the leader of the PDP in the country, the president, the pundits said would find it difficult to convince Nigerians that he was not privy to the party’s decision to suspend a high ranking member, in the person of a governor of a state, for a flimsy reason of disregarding the directive of the party leadership in Rivers State to recall elected officers of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council who were suspended by the State House of Assembly for alleged corruption.
The pundits have argued that the body language of the president shows he is not happy with the re-emergence of Governor Amaechi as the NGF chairman.
However, Governor Amaechi has expressed his willingness to work with the president to realise the development dream of Nigerians.
“Today, the governors have spoken with one voice, re-affirming our faith in democratic governance as the hope of Nigeria’s future. We remain committed to supporting our leader, the President and Commander –In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to realise the development dream of all Nigerians by reducing tension, uncertainty and in our beloved country,” he said.
Inasmuch as well-meaning Nigerians would be glad over the speedy reconciliation of the president and the Rivers State Governor, we must not fail to condemn our leaders who publicly he to their subjects to advance their selfish interest.
The NGF election is indeed an eye-opener to the amount of lies that unsuspecting Nigerans have been fed by these governors. We now understand why some states under the leadership of these terrible governors will not experience face and fair elections. In those states, the majority will only have their say but certainly not their way.
Finally, we salute Governor Amaechi on his re-election as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.