The crisis within the Nigeria Governors’ Forum appears not to be over despite recent moves by the governors to find a way out.
On Saturday, the Chairman of the forum, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, asked his colleagues to shun a meeting called by a factional chairman of the forum, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State. Amaechi also described Jang in unflattering terms.
Jang, in a letter sent to governors on Friday, had invited them for a meeting holding in Abuja later today.
Amaechi won the forum’s May 24, 2013 chairmanship election with 19 votes as against Jang’s 16, but the Plateau governor insisted he won the election.
The Rivers governor, in a message to one of our correspondents on Saturday, said it was wrong for Jang to continue calling for meetings when it was apparent that he did not win the forum’s chairmanship election.
He described Jang as an impostor and asked the governors not to honour his invitation.
Amaechi said, “Jang is an impostor. NGF members should steer clear of him.”
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, in a telephone interview also told SUNDAY PUNCH that only Amaechi had the power to call for NGF meetings.
Semenitari said Amaechi remained the duly elected NGF chairman and the situation had not changed.
“I am not a member of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. But I am aware that Governor Rotimi Amaechi is the chairman of the NGF. Having scored 19 votes against Governor Jang’s 16 votes during the election, his (Amaechi) position as the chairman of the forum is not in doubt. I believe he (Amaechi) is the only one that can call for a meeting,” she said.
In response to Jang’s invitation, some northern governors, who had supported Amaechi during the election, vowed not to attend the meeting.
The Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko, said he would not attend the meeting because Jang was not validly elected.
Wamakko, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Sani Umar, also faulted Jang’s call for the meeting, saying, “How can we attend such a meeting? We are not part of him. We won’t be there because he was not validly elected.”
Also, the Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, said he would not attend the meeting because Jang was not qualified to convene such a meeting.
Nyako, who spoke through his Director of Press, Ahmed Sajo, said, “Jang is not the leader of the NGF. He can’t call for NGF meeting and as we speak there is no call for any meeting. We won’t be there.”
The Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, and his Kano State counterpart, Rabiu Kwakwanso, were said to be attending Umral in Saudi Arabia when our correspondents called.
However, Aliyu’s Chief Press Secretary, Danladi Ndayebo, and Kwakwanso’s Director of Press, Baba Dantiye, confirmed their bosses’ absence from the country. Sources close to both of them said they won’t be part of the meeting.
The source said, “We didn’t elect him (Jang) as our leader. He was not elected by the majority. Why must we follow him when democracy is a game of numbers? Did he become governor by a mere endorsement? These are the questions you people (journalists) should ask him.”
Some South-West governors also declined the invitation stating that they were not party to the Jang’s group.
The Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, said he would not attend the meeting because of his support for Amaechi.
Aregbesola, who spoke through his Commissioner for Regional Planning and Special Duties, Mr. Ajibola Basiru, on Saturday, said it was wrong to describe the group of governors supporting Jang as a faction of the governors’ forum.
He said, “Governor Aregbesola cannot be at the meeting called by Governor Jang. There’s nothing like Jang faction because an election was conducted and a clear winner emerged. In an election, the majority have their way while the minority would have their say.
“Governor Aregbesola is an avowed democrat; if his candidate lost the governors’ forum election, he would have conceded defeat. It is unfortunate that some people are just grandstanding.”
Ajibola said Aregbesola was billed to attend a meeting of the “progressive governors’ forum” scheduled to hold in one of the northern states next week, stressing that Amaechi remained the authentic chairman of the governors’ forum.
Also, an official of the Oyo State Government, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on Saturday, said Governor Abiola Ajimobi would not attend Jang’s meeting.