Akin Akande, Abuja
Factional Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Governor, Jonah Jang of Plateau State has lashed out at his arch rival, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state saying he virtually turned himself to a dictator when he was the Chairman of the Forum.
He explained that there was never anything in the NGF Constitution that says 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 with 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 the alleged Constitution was when Vice President Namadi Sambo was still the governor of Kaduna state and the Constitution was never ratified to accommodate a sitting Chairman re-contesting, contrary to what Amaechi is propagating.
“Amaechi virtually became a dictator, dictating everything. He brought in a Constitution that many of us have never seen or aware of. The only time we look into the Constitution was when Namadi Sambo was still there and there was nowhere that says a sitting Chairman could be re-elected. The Constitution was never ratified,” he said.
Governor Jang described the video coverage of the election as morally corrupt, saying, “we have never called journalists to video our proceedings, if it is Amaechi that planted the camera, it is morally corrupt.
Asked why the forum has not intervened in the suspension of the River State Governor from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he said that the matter is not an NGF matter, but the PDP Governors Forum but added that Amaechi had not formally reported the matter to the forum.
Speaking on how elections have always been conducted by the NGF since 1999, the Cross River state governor, Liyel Imoke said that NGF elections have always been by consensus in the 14 years of its existence, adding that the reason was to avoid any acrimony that would otherwise emanate after election.
“It is a consensus between the North and South that it will be one term. For the 14 years of the existence of the NGF there has never been an election. The reason why we agreed on consensus is that because it will be divisive,” he said.
On his part during the briefing, Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko said that not one governor would say he is very proud of what happened at the forum. He, however, blamed Amaechi for the development, even as he said that the society most times sympathise with the underdog.
He said that he did not vote during the election, but emphasised that 18 governors endorsed Jang for the chairmanship position, noting that on Saturday after the election the 18 member still reported when Jang called for a meeting.
Mimiko insisted that Amaechi cannot preside over an election in which he is a contestant, adding that the Rivers State governor virtually took over everything, including the printing of the ballot papers and the ballot boxes, against the principles of democratic practice.
He said that if they had walked out during the election, as one of their options, Nigerians would have interpreted it differently, adding that the second option was for them to smash the ballot box, but said that such option was below the standard of governors.
He challenged whoever recorded the video of election to show the total video clips, as the outcome of such action was not moral, adding that the forum is a voluntary association, which any governor could decide to leave anytime.
He said that the best thing to do before the election was for Amaechi to have stepped down and vacate the seat, so that somebody else would preside over the election, but Amaechi “insisted that he would not vacate the seat before the election,”.
Said Mimiko: “Not one governor would say he is very proud of what happened. A few of us have received bashing, but we decided to stand our ground. The Nigerian Governors’ Forum is a voluntary organisation, any person can pull out anytime.
“If you indicate interest to run for re-election, you must first step down. When Amaechi said he will run, we insisted that he should step down and allow somebody to be there and conduct the election. He insisted that he would not vacate the seat before the election. It is Amaechi that produced the ballot papers and also boxes. Any governor, who is not ready to identify with his conviction is not qualified to be a governor.
“They should ask the person recorded the video of the event to show the full clips. Let them produce any camera in the world if I get closer to the virus infested ballot box. I did not vote. Why do people believe in the voodoo ballot box?”
The governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, emphasised that elections in the forum had always been by consensus, adding that the election of Amaechi by seven governors and six deputies was by consensus in Kwara state in 2011.
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. He produced a copy of the letter send by the governors of the sone to Saraki.
The letter signed by the four South-east governors, Theodore Orji, Martins Elechi, Sullivan Chime and Ohakim, with reference number SEGF/S/GOVS/INT/1/022 and addressed 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 Governor Forum.
“Our action in this regard is unanimously as a zone and is borne 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 letter concluded.
Obi said he was surprised that the meeting, which was supposed to be a valedictory session for the former Kwara State governor, Saraki, who was then the NGF Chairman was turned to an election event, where Amaechi emerged as the Chairman, adding that he was then begged to accept the Vice Chairman.
He said that the forum is an association that is not recognised by the Nigeria Constitution, adding that the forum was a trouble to him when he was holding a position of the Vice.
“If they don’t want me I will go my way. That did not stop me from the way I govern Anambra State. What is worrisome to me is that they have now dragged it to where it is worrisome,” he said.