NGF poll: Presidency, Govs battle over consensus candidate

By SONI DANIEL, REGIONAL EDITOR, NORTH

ABUJA—There were indications, yesterday that the attempt by forces close to the Presidency to influence choice candidate for the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, might backfire, as most of the governors were opposed to the idea.

Similarly, it has emerged that most of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors tapped by the Presidency to replace the current chairman, Rotimi Amaechi, were not too keen on the offer.

A reliable source close to the NGF said two northern governors, one of them being Ibrahim Shema of Katsina, who were handpicked by the Presidency to succeed Amaechi, may have politely told the Villa that they were not too keen to fly the flag so as not to jeopardise the interest of the North in 2015.

The governors are reported to be arguing that accepting the post would jeopardise the clamour by them to produce a northern president in the next election and could put them at loggerheads with their people.

However, given its alleged determination to drive out Amaechi from the post, which it claims has made him to be too powerful, the forces against the Presidency are said to have opted to anoint a consensus candidate during its meeting with PDP governors.

The matter is said to have infuriated governors who are opposed to the idea of the President imposing a candidate on them, reasoning that such a move would weaken the forum and defeat the purpose for which it was established.

One governor said: “We do not want the Presidency to handpick anyone and impose on us as a consensus candidate.

Govs against imposition

“That is why we want to be present at the meeting with the President and to appeal to him to allow us to elect our new chairman based on our own conviction and the competence of the candidate”.

A source hinted that as a result of the resolve of the governors to protect their frontiers from being invaded by the Villa, it was learnt that many of the PDP governors were ready to attend both the meeting called by its chairman, Godswill Akpabio in Abuja, yesterday and another one with President Jonathan today.

Presidential sources said the reaction of the Katsina governor has rattled the Presidency, which has believed that he would have no objection to his choice as Amaechi’s replacement in the NGF’s election in May.

The governor is said to have rejected the push by the Presidency on him to confront Amaechi in the next NGF poll, citing the fact that most of their colleagues were behind the Rivers State governor.

Shema is said to have been ruffled by the fact that despite Presidential intervention, most governors, including PDP governors may have decided to return Amaechi, when the election comes up in May.

He is said to have confided in close associates that he was not interested in running against Amaechi because of the support he is currently enjoying from members of the NGF.

Beyond the presidential onslaught to stall Amaechi’s re-election, majority of NGF members are said to have resolved to return Amaechi for a second term, irrespective of the attempt by the Presidency to stop him from being re-elected.

Governors opposed to Amaechi are reported to have assured the President that they would rely on the PDP constitution to stop him from presenting himself for re-election in May.

The governors also said they would elect a consensus candidate so as to forestall a secret ballot, in which Amaechi could win.

Although unwritten, the governors reminded the Presidency that NGF elections had always been conducted through secret ballot and that they were not in the mood to change it.

Findings by Vanguard revealed that governors in support of Amaechi, have even dusted up a copy of the NGF constitution, which makes provision for the chairman to run for two terms of four years.

They cited Section 6.9 of the NGF Law of 2009, which states:“The chairman and vice chairman of the NGF shall hold office for a term of two years but shall be available for re-election for another but final term of two years”.

It was learnt that once anti-Amaechi group leant of the provision of the law, they immediately drew the attention of the Villa to the fact that Amaechi was likely to win a landslide if he signifies interest to run.

Although Amaechi has not indicated his interest to run, the Presidency is reported to have taken steps to stop him from running at all.

….Amaechi, Akpabio, Saraki in secret meeting

By HENRY UMORU

ABUJA—FORMER Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, Senator Bukola Saraki, PDP, Kwara Central, his successor and governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi and Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governors’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State have held a closed door meeting.

Vanguard gathered that the meeting was part of moves to nip in the bud the political quagmire between Amaechi and Akpabio, especially following the formation of PDP Governors’ Forum.

A source told Vanguard that the trio met on Tuesday in Abuja for three hours, just as Senator Bukola Saraki was said to have pleaded with them to collectively ensure the survival of the larger forum of governors, the NGF as well as not to heat the polity for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

According to a source, Governor Godswill Akpabio assured his colleague that the PDP Governors Forum was not created to undermine the Nigeria Governors Forum under the leadership of Rotimi Amaechi.

“At the end of their meeting, they agreed to work together while Senator Bukola Saraki pleaded with them to collectively ensure the survival of the larger forum of governors, the NGF.”

It would be recalled that the Rivers State governor had been having a running battle with the Presidency and the PDP NWC over his leadership of the Nigeria Governors Forum, even as he was accused of using the Forum as an opposition platform against the PDP-led Federal Government

A new Forum, the Peoples’ Democratic Party Governors Forum, PDPGF, had since emerged under the leadership of the Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Godswill Akpabio.

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