The crisis rocking the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) seem not to be abating as the governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi has accused governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of manipulating the Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi against him in 2011 to become the chairman of the Governors’ Forum.
Also, the Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko urged Nigerians not to set the outcome of the NGF election as a precursor to the 2015 presidential election, stating that the process of the election won by Governor Amaechi by 19 votes to Governor Jonah Jang was immoral and fraudulent as Amaechi presided and stage managed his victory.
Governor Jang has also accused Governor Amaechi of running the NGF as a dictator, while Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State said that the NGF has no approved constitution, challenging any governor to bring out the minutes where the NGF constitution was approved.
Giving insight on how the seed of discord was sowed in the NGF, Obi brandished a letter signed by the four South-east governors of Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia and Imo States in May 19 2011 for him to succeed former chairman of NGF, Bukola Saraki as the next chairman. But lamented that the PDP governors traded him off for Amaechi to succeed him.
He said that the South-east governors had earlier endorsed him before Amaechi was suddenly picked for the position in 2011, adding that the position was not given to him just because he was not from PDP, even when the other South-east governors, who were members of PDP, nominated him for the position.
The letter signed by the four South-east governors, Theodore Orji, Martins Elechi, Sullivan Chime and Ikedi Ohakim, with reference number SEGF/S/GOVS/INT/1/022 and address to Saraki, who was the former chairman of NGF, with the heading “Nomination of Mr. Peter Obi” read: “We, the governors of the South-east of Nigeria wish to respectfully nominate Mr. Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria as a candidate for the position of Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Our action in this regard is unanimously as a zone and is borne out of our firm conviction that he will discharge the functions of this office with credibility, dedication and due diligence.
“Kindly accept the assurance of our highest regards.”
The governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi emphasised that elections in the forum have always been by consensus, adding that the election of Amaechi by seven governors and six deputies was by consensus in Kwara State in 2011.
But in a swift reaction, former NGF Chairman, Senator Saraki said that there was no trade off, as it is only the convention that the party with the majority governors should provide the chairman of the forum. He told THISDAY that PDP governors rejected Obi because he is not from the majority party, hence the chance was thrown to the South-south.
“At the meeting in Ilorin, when the PDP governors insisted that the office of chairman of the NGF must go to the party with majority and no South-east PDP governor want to be chairman. We first offered the seat to Ebonyi governor and he rejected it. Later, the meeting reluctantly asked the South-south to produce the chairman. Governors Amaechi, Imoke and Timi Sylva were asked to choose who among them to become the chairman and they entered a room and later came out with the choice of Amaechi.
“So there was no manipulation, but a matter of conventional rule of the majority party,” he said.
Jang who said that he was drafted to the NGF election as a neutral candidate described Amaechi as a dictator, saying, “Amaechi virtually turned himself to a dictator when he was the chairman NGF.”
He explained that there was never anywhere in the NGF Constitution that said that a chairman could be re-elected, adding that it was only Amaechi, who knows where he got that portion of the constitution that says a sitting chairman could be re-elected.
Jang, who was briefing journalists in company of Cross River, Ondo and Anambra states governors, said there was never anytime governors met to ratify the constitution, adding that the only time governors met on that alleged constitution was when Namadi Sambo was still the governor of Kaduna State and the constitution was never ratify to accommodate a sitting chairman re-contesting, contrary to what Amaechi was propagating.