Governors - Amaechi and Jang (R) Governors - Amaechi and Jang (R) Photo: Guardianj

• Group not meeting Monday, says Amaechi

• Tells Jang: ‘Stop impersonating me’

• Jonathan’s wife denies plot to unseat Rivers helmsman


AS the crisis in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) worsens, Rivers State Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi Sunday declared that the group would not meet Sunday .


Amaechi’s position is contrary to that of Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang who has fixed a meeting of the NGF for Monday.


Both Amaechi and Jang are each laying claim to the chairmanship of the NGF.


In a statement Sunday, Amaechi asked Jang to stop impersonating him. He said on June 15 and 16, reports in the media credited to Jang announced that he had called for a meeting of the NGF.


According to Amaechi, ordinarily, he would have ignored these reports as he does not imagine that as governors who hold the people’s mandate through the democratic process of free and fair elections, they would do anything to impugn their integrity.


In the statement issued in Port Harcourt Sunday, Amaechi, however, explained that as chairman of the NGF, elected by his colleagues to safeguard their integrity and that of the forum, it had become imperative for him to request that Jang remain within the confines of decorum and cease to impersonate him and to stop parading himself as NGF chairman.


He said that there was only one chairman of the forum, duly elected by a vote tally of 19: 16 on May 23, 2013.


“For the avoidance of doubt, I as chairman of the NGF have not called for any Governors’ Forum meeting for Monday, June 17, 2013. The only meeting scheduled for Monday, June 17, is a meeting of all governors with His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan, scheduled to hold at 9.00 p.m. at Aso Rock Villa. All governors should please ensure attendance at this meeting with Mr. President”, he said.


“I wish to re-assure my brother governors that this storm shall pass and we all will be re-united as one family committed to our nation’s unity and supporting Mr. President in his vision for a Nigeria that safeguards the rights of all its citizens to good governance and democratic norms. Governor Jang is my brother and friend and I harbour no ill-feelings against him, but it is important that he stops this impersonation, as it could threaten all the good work we all have done together,” Amaechi said.


Amaechi said he wished to remind Jang that there is a legal action that has been instituted against him by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State from parading himself as the chairman of NGF. According to him, as leaders elected by the people, Nigerians are closely watching them.


“We must comport ourselves according to the dictates and principles of democratic and lawful practices and norms,” he said.


Amaechi’s allegation of impersonation against his Plateau State counterpart is a continuation of the controversy that has  dogged the NGF chairmanship election conducted at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, on May 23, in which incumbent chairman of the forum and Governor of Rivers State, Amaechi, was declared winner with 19 votes against 16 votes scored by his counterpart, Jang.


The Director-General of NGF, Ashishana Okauru, declared Amaechi victorious, a declaration that has been challenged by some members of the forum who alleged that the result was not a true reflection of what transpired.


The once influential NGF has since been split into two factions, sequel to the rejection of Amaechi’s re-election by supporters of Jang, on the ground of “profound” irregularities in the election. On the contrary, they pronounced Jang as the actual winner of the disputed election while Amaechi insisted he won “fair and square.”


Shortly after the election, Amaechi was suspended from his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), by the National Working Committee (NWC) for alleged disobedience to the state chapter of the party in his state.


A committee of the party led by Joseph Gadzama (SAN) was set up to look into the alleged infractions by Amaechi, who, in turn, has alleged a “political witch-hunt” by the party. The latest twist in the tail in the crisis rocking the party is the court action instituted by Fashola on behalf of pro-Amaechi governors.


The action was aimed at stopping  Jang from “parading himself” as the chairman of the NGF, even as some pro-Jang governors took time at the weekend to brief the media in Abuja and Lagos to shed more light on the continuing crisis.


In the writ of  summons filed by a former Attorney-General of Lagos State, Prof. Yemi Osibajo (SAN) and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), Fashola asked the court to declare that Jang is not competent to be called the elected chairman of the NGF. He claimed that a record number of 35 state governors participated in the controversial election that returned Amaechi as the NGF chairman. As a result, the plaintiff (Fashola) is praying the court to stop Jang from parading himself as “the elected chairman of the forum in any manner whatsoever and however.”


Fashola said he would rely on the NGF’s registered constitution when the trial begins. He wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining both Jang and Okauru, their privies and agents.


All the pro-Jang governors were also joined as defendants in the suit, which could be a long-drawn legal battle between the two factions over who will control the NGF, once a united pressure group with common interests.


Meanwhile, the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, has denied reports linking her visit to Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, with alleged plans to unseat Amaechi.


A statement from her Special Assistant, Media, Ayo Osinlu, said her visit was strictly in line with her position as a promoter of goodwill among all segments of the country, noting that it had no link with whatever political activity going on in the state.


Besides, disturbed by the violence in some parts of the North, members of Arewa Defence League (ADL) yesterday said that the crisis ravaging the northern region was politically- motivated to destabilise the region ahead of the 2015 general elections.


The President of the group, Malam Murtala Abubakar, in a statement in Kaduna said: “We wish to alert the nation, particularly the North-West political zone, to the sinister motives by the Presidency through the national executive committees of the People Democratic Party to cause major political crisis in the region in order to achieve blind ambitions of those who want to subvert democratic principles to cling to power despite their poor records of public office.”


Abubakar criticised what he called “the undemocratic manner the national executive committees of the PDP announced the suspension of the executive governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Magatagarda Wamakko, from the party”, saying that “it is the beginning of series of events designed to instigate political crisis between and among political gladiators in the region against themselves in order to divert their interest from challenging the incompetence of the incumbent President.”


He said: “We are aware that if the plots succeed, it will give the Federal Government the excuse to pronounce state of emergency in Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano and Jigawa states and thereby use soldiers during the 2015 general elections to rig the outcome of the elections if at all the elections is allowed to hold.


“We are delighted to note through our consultations with stakeholders in Sokoto State that greater majority of the party members and sympathisers condemn the suspension and described it as act of impunity while the state chapter and North- West zonal Secretariat of the PDP had come out strong to distance themselves from the action of the national executive committees.”


Source: Guardian