Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NGF: Presidency in fresh move to sack Amaechi

The Presidency has initiated a fresh move to ensure that Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi does not retain his post as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.

It was gathered that ahead of the fifth meeting of the NGF slated for Wednesday, 15 state governors met with President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday night in Abuja.

Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State-led the delegation which had Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State as the only non-PDP governor in attendance.

A source privy to the meeting confided in one of our correspondents that the Forum which was preceded by a special dinner was “essentially to mobilise support for the emergence of Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema as the next chairman of the NGF.”

He said, “We have been able to secure the understanding of our governors especially our brothers from the North. I believe for the sake of balance, it makes a lot of sense to have a northern PDP governor as chairman of the NGF because we already have Governor Akpabio, a Southerner as chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.”

The source noted that members of the NGF in opposition political parties were 10 out of the 36 governors in the country. He added that at least two governors in the opposition parties were likely to throw their weight behind any candidate supported by the PDP.

Our correspondents also gathered that as the NGF meets in Abuja tomorrow, the issue of election has again been deferred as it is currently not on the agenda.

Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, said that Presidency’s interest was in upholding the rule of law.

According to him, the President as a loyal member of the PDP, will be delighted to have another PDP governor taking over from Amaechi as the NGF chairman as his tenure draws to a close.

Gulak said the President was ready to work with any of the governors of the PDP that would eventually replace the Rivers State governor.

When asked whether Jonathan would be ready to work with the embattled chairman of the NGF if re-elected, the presidential aide said the issue of re-election of Amaechi did not arise.

Gulak said, “The fact that the President met with the PDP governors was an indication that he is united with the governors. When has it become an aberration for him to meet the governors?

“It is not about removing Amaechi. Amaechi’s tenure as NGF chairman is ending this April, so nobody is talking about his removal. When Bukola Saraki’s tenure ended, he handed over to Amaechi. Since Amaechi’s tenure is ending too, he must hand over to somebody else.

“The President is interested in any PDP governor, not necessarily Shema, taking over from Amaechi at the expiration of his tenure. There is no re-election for Amaechi. His tenure has expired except if he wants to extend his tenure and there is no tenure elongation in the NGF.”

However, efforts to get the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Commnications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. David Iyofor, to react to Gulak’s statement were not fruitful.

While a personal assistant to the commissioner said Semenitari was indisposed, Iyofor, who promised to call one of our correspondents back, did not do so.

But a dependable source in Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt confided in The PUNCH that Amaechi was keen on seeking re-election as the forum’s chairman.

The source, who claimed that a part of the rules governing the forum had long been altered to accommodate any incumbent chairman seeking a second term to do so.

He added, “I can tell you that the governor will not be stampeded into quitting. He will prefer to stand the election and be defeated than shying away from it because some outsiders are now interested in displacing him. Mind you, Governor Amaechi is a good fighter.”

The PDP had in its bid to whittle down Amaechi influence as NGF chairman created the forum of its governors headed by Akpabio. Two weeks ago, a court sacked Ameachi’s loyalists from the helm of affairs at the Rivers State chapter of the PDP.

It took only 24 hours for the national secretariat of the PDP to inaugurate a new executive council of the party in the state

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