Ahead of the election for the post of chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) slated for next month, governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will meet tomorrow to discuss the request by President Goodluck Jonathan to dethrone the Rivers State Governor and current chairman of the forum, Chibuike Amaechi.
Speculations have been rife that the president would want the Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema, to supplant Amaechi as the new chairman of the NGF, but a reliable source informed THISDAY Monday that Jonathan is not as fastidious as to who emerges insofar as it is not Amechi.
The meeting, which will hold tomorrow afternoon, is a prelude to the NGF meeting expected to take place at 8pm at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.
Also, the governors will discuss the query issued by the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, to the Sokoto State Governor, Aliyu Wamakko, over his utterances that Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State was not acceptable to the northern governors as the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
The president will also on Thursday meet with all the governors elected on the platform of the PDP.
Jonathan last Sunday met with a select number of governors across the political parties. The governors of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Ondo, Olusegun Mimiko; Gombe, Ibrahim Dankwambo; Kaduna, Yero Ramallam; Delta, Emmanuel Uduaghan; and Akwa Ibom, Akpabio, were some of the governors that attended the meeting.
THISDAY gathered that at the meeting with the governors, the president solicited for their loyalty and support, and asked them to throw their weight behind the party by countering the criticism of the opposition parties.
A source privy to the meeting said the president complained that the PDP governors were giving too much latitude to the opposition and its governors who have been actively involved in criticising the federal government and the ruling party at any given time.
The president was said to have told the governors that the press has been agog everyday with darts constantly thrown by the opposition parties and their governors at the ruling party, while the PDP governors usually turned a blind eye to the criticism.
He told them they have to be actively involved in defending the federal government and the ruling party as everything had been left to the presidency to handle.
On the election of a new chairman for the NGF, the president, the source said, impressed it on them that Amaechi had to be replaced, as his loyalty to the party could no longer be guaranteed.
But some of the governors, it was gathered, are favourably disposed towards Amaechi’s re-election and believe that their support of the Rivers governor will be kept confidential, because the election would be held through a secret ballot.
However, PDP is insisting that as the party with majority of the governors, it should be given the option of presenting a consensus candidate.
The president was said to have urged the governors to consider his request for a consensus candidacy and revert to him when he meets with them on Thursday.
THISDAY further gathered that the governors that attended the meeting with the president last Sunday complained of lack of funds to carry out capital projects in their states.
The president was said to have promised the governors that their request would be looked into.
It was also understood that one of the issues that will feature on the agenda of tomorrow’s meeting of the PDP Governors’ Forum is the query issued by Tukur to Wamakko.
Also, a committee headed by Shema on the efforts to resolve the crisis in the South-west PDP would formally present its report at the meeting.
Tukur had queried Wamakko over a statement attributed to him that Akpabio was not acceptable to the northern PDP governors as the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
On getting the query, Wamakko was said to have asked the secretary of the PDP in Sokoto, Alhaji Aminu Bello, to reply Tukur’s query to the chagrin of members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
But the governors, a source said, have taken umbrage with the query and are angry that Tukur had the temerity to issue it.
According to a governor that spoke to THISDAY on the issue, “We have to be watchful; yesterday it was Governors (Murtala) Nyako and Amaechi, today it is Wamakko, so who else tomorrow.”
In the meantime, the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, held a closed-door meeting with Tukur in the chairman's residence at the weekend to harmonise matters arising from the on-going reconciliation efforts by the party.
Details of what Tukur and Anenih discussed at the meeting were still sketchy at press time, however, indications were rife that both men had used the meeting to dispel the perception that they had both been working at cross purposes.
Similarly, Akpabio and his counterpart from Bauchi, Alhaji Isa Yuguda, mid-last week had a formal meeting with Tukur in Abuja to chart new strategies aimed at re-launching the party ahead of the 2015 elections.
The meeting between Tukur and the PDP governors drew up strategies on how to put the ruling party on a sound footing and was aimed at fulfilling its dream of winning more states by 2015.