But for last minute intervention by Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Fayemi, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) would have elected their chairman last night.
The meeting began with three candidates- Theodore Orji, Jonah Jang, and Gabriel Suswam- governors of Abia, Plateau and Benue states respectively dramatically withdrawing their candidacy for the Katsina State Governor, Mohammed Shema. Sources close to the meeting disclosed that Chairman of the forum and Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi had the support of no fewer than 14 governors while Shema had 11.
The 14 governors reportedly backing Amaechi included those of Kwara, Niger, Oyo, Lagos, Kebbi, Kano, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Bauchi, Ekiti and Jigawa states. Shema’s supporters at the meeting included governors of Edo, Anambra, Abia, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Delta and Plateau states.
Others, who wanted a change of baton, according to sources close to the meeting, included governors of Benue, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Ondo and Nasarawa states, even though Governor Tanko Al’Makura later dumped Shema for Amaechi. Imo presented an interesting case as the deputy governor had thrown his weight behind Shema.
However, when Governor Rochas Okorocha arrived about two hours into the meeting, he turned the table in favour of Amaechi. Daily Sun gathered that the meeting was preceded by one between President Goodluck Jonathan and the governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam had reportedly attempted to make the governors apologise to President Jonathan for the reported face-off with the Governors’ Forum, but was rebuffed.
A source disclosed that it was the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, who broke the ice by suggesting that the election be deferred “so as not to create the impression that the President or Amaechi lost out.”
The Ekiti State governor, who had a journalism background was said to have told his colleagues that if the election had been held and Amaechi won, the newspapers’ headline ‘today’ would be ‘Amaechi floors Jonathan’.
He said such reportage would not be good for the president, Amaechi, the Governors’ Forum and the nation’s democracy The Forum thereafter announced a postponement of the meeting till May.