Akin Akande, Abuja
All the governors loyal to Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State on Monday boycotted a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) called by Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau state.
Both Amaechi and Jang lead separate factions of the influential NGF following a hotly disputed election of a chairman that pitted Amaechi against Jang.
The Jang led faction of the NGF, however, met in Abuja at the Maitama Secretariat of the Forum with 16 governors in attendance, signaling that the division of the NGF may have come to stay at least until the next general elections
The governors in attendance were, Taraba (Acting), Abia, Plateau, Ondo, Ebonyi, Kogi, Benue (Deputy), Delta, Katsina, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Enugu, Anambra, Gombe and Cross River
The meeting, it was gathered was to discuss the way forward on the crisis rocking the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
The 36 state governors have not been able to meet to take a common position on the FAAC dispute and agree on how to share money from the Excess Crude Account, ostensibly because of the factionalisation of the NGF.
Only 16 governors were reportedly to have responded to the meeting called by the Plateau State Governor to fashion a way forward on how to resolve the issue.
Briefing journalists shortly after the meeting that lasted for three hours, Jang declined on the outcome of their meeting, insisting that they have to brief President Goodluck Jonathan first.
“We cannot tell you what we discuss inside because we have to meet with Mr. President first,” he said.
On why majority of the governors boycotted the meeting, he said: “Some governors travelled. You cannot stop the governors because you are going to have NGF meeting. Some have travelled and some have offered apology for inability to attend,” he said.
On whether there was a quorum to convey the meeting, Jang said, “our quorum is 12, so anytime we are 12 we can hold meetings, it has been the situation in the past.”
Reacting to a statement credited to Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi that he should stop impersonation him, the factional Chairman of NGF said, “What is the meaning of impersonation, have I said I am governor of River State?”
The decision of the other governors to stay away was interpreted on Monday night to be a decision to show their continued loyalty to Amaechi, who had earlier urged them not to honour Jang’s invitation.
Amaechi had equally warned Jang to stop parading himself as the chairman of the NGF, describing the action as impersonation.
Only last week Thursday, members of Finance Commissioners’ Forum of Nigeria (FCFN) walked out of the monthly meeting of the FAAC conveyed to share the federally collected revenue for the month of May, alleging that over N60billion was still outstanding.
Chairman of FCFN, Mr. Eze Echesi, alongside his colleagues from other states told reporters last Thursday in Abuja that the reason for the boycott was to take “this message to the state governors so that they will put heads together to meet with the President (Jonathan) and every other well-meaning entities of the federation so that these problems will be resolved once and for all.”
The commissioners said the delay in disbursing the arrears had caused hiccups in fund flow of the states and their local governments resulting in their inability to pay contractors and salaries.