Indications emerged on Sunday night that state governors in support of Governor Rotimi Amaechi as Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) chairman may be heading for the court to stop Governor Jonah Jang from parading himself as the chairman of the forum.
A source close to the group, said that the step was one of the several options already mapped out to resolve the crisis rocking the forum.
He said the group had started assembling legal luminaries to study the unfolding development and take necessary legal actions.
Findings also revealed that the group had secured the video clip of the election, to the point of declaration of the final results, in which Governor Amaechi scored 19 votes to beat Governor Jang, who had 16 votes.
“I can tell you on a good authority that Governor Amaechi’s group will be heading to court anytime from now, to put end to this rubbish. They are bad losers. Were they sleeping when the election was being conducted? They were part of the entire process,” the source added.
As of press time, the group loyal to Governor Jang were said to be strategising after visits to the vice president, Alhaji Namadi Sambo; national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, among others.
However, both Jang and Amaechi continued to lay claims to victory of the chairmanship of the forum, on Sunday.
Jang attributed his emergence as the chairman of the forum to the will of God and linked the crisis to the antics of governors strategising for 2015 presidential election.
The Plateau State governor, at an interdenominational service to mark May 29th Democracy Day at Faithway Chapel, Jos, said he never planned to be chairman of the forum, but was called upon to lead by his colleagues.
“Prior to Friday’s election, I was never interested or at any point muted the idea to contest for the chairman of the forum. But when I woke up that morning, I prayed concerning the election that the will of God be done. I never bid for it and the position of the chairman was zone to the North. Whatever man planned, God always have his way. God has ordained that Plateau will have this position,” he said.
Governor Jang, who tried to explain how he became a contender for the position, said it was after the two contestants, Governors Ibrahim Sherma and Isa Yuguda, withdrew their interest that the northern governors unanimously conceded the position to him.
He implored Nigerians not to be disappointed with the outcome of the election, adding that the forum would, once again, become strong and virile.
Speaking to newsmen on arrival from Abuja, the governor promised to do his best to reposition the forum and implored Governor Amaechi to cooperate with him in the task ahead.
“I had worked with Governor Amaechi in the past successfully. As far as I am concerned, I have been given an assignment and by the grace of God, I will do my best to unite the forum and to make sure that it gives the right leadership to the people of Nigeria. We have worked with Governor Amaechi successfully and he should also work with us,” he said.
But, at another interdenominational church service at Corpus Christi Cathedral in Port Harcourt, to mark this year’s Children’s Day celebration, Amaechi said he contested and won the NGF election held on Friday.
According to him, “let me say to you, I am the chairman of NGF. That we are not talking is because we have decided not to talk. They voted, we voted and we won. If they had won, I would have congratulated them,” he said.
Anambra State governor, Mr Peter Obi, however, said the constiution of NGF has no provision for re-election.
Governor Obi, on Sunday, said the NGF had earlier adopted the constitution of Governors’ Forum of the United States of America, which had no provision for re-election of the chairman after a two-year term in office.
The governor stated that the amended constitution of the NGF, which Governor Amaechi relied upon to run in the controversial election, was doctored, adding that the amendment was never ratified.
He said Amaechi’s re-election would not stand, because he was not elected by consensus.
“Four out of the five governors in the South-East say Governor Jang is their choice; five out of the six governors in the South-South recognised Jang as their chairman; in the North, it is the same thing, so what are we talking about?
“This is a body of equal partners, a voluntary group and there has never been a time we had election. It had always been by consensus. They doctored the constitution which was never even ratified,” he said.
Governor Obi also spoke about the process leading to his emergence as vice chairman of the forum in 2009.
“First, let me say that in the history of our forum, we have never had chairmanship election. In Ilorin, we were about seven governors, later on, Oshiomhole came by the time Amaechi was selected.
“Let me tell you what happened, we just arrived there and they said that we need to have a new leadership. Everybody was like, it was going to be me, because I was the deputy, based on the constitution.
“The then governor of Bayelsa, (Timipre) Sylva said Amaechi, then the PDP governors said Amaechi. Nothing else, nobody said raise your hand. It was just like that. It has always been through consensus, when we agree, we agree. Initially, what worked against me was that they argued that I’m a non-PDP governor. In fact, I have letters, documents to back what I am saying,” he said.
He added that “let me tell you the background so that you will understand very well. When we were having a little bit of problem with (Bukola) Saraki and governors wanted to remove him, we decided that we must formalise everything concerning the forum.
“That is the American constitution and that was what we adopted. Based on this, on the day we agreed to this, I was elected the vice chairman under Saraki. That was in 2009. It was by consensus, the governors said let Peter Obi be the vice chairman. That was how I became the vice chairman.”
Obi said the re-election of a sitting chairman of the forum had no place in the body’s constitution, adding that a chairman could only serve for a single, non-renewable term.
Shedding light on the crisis which had engulfed the forum and which had seen to its factionalisation with Governors Amaechi and Jang leading different groups, Obi said the constitution of the American Governors’ Forum, which the NGF modelled after, prescribed only a single two-year term for a sitting chairman with no proviso for re-election.
He claimed that Amaechi’s re-election would not stand because he was not the consensus choice of the body.
When asked whether the constitution was amended at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), he said: “Let me tell you, all those things were not approved by anybody. They doctored it. I am one man who attends every meeting, I can’t remember ever sitting down and adopting the constitution you are talking about.”
On what happened on Friday at the Rivers Lodge, he said: “As far as I am concerned, in Kwara, a particular governor said they should not conduct election in Kwara because we do not have quorum. He was told that quorum is 12. And even in this constitution they are quoting now, our quorum remains 12. If quorum is 12 and 12 don’t want you, that means you should even not contest.
Meanwhile, the Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has called for reconciliation in the aftermath of the recently concluded NGF election, in order not to lose sight of the peer review for development, which motivated the forum’s emergence in the first place.
Speaking to airport correspondents at the weekend, on his return from Abuja where the election was held, Governor Ahmed called on his colleague governors to shun divisive political tendencies and bury the hatchet, while focusing on using the NGF as a platform for driving impactive development for the benefit of the people.
“If there are issues as regards the election of the forum’s chairman, we should use the same platform to resolve them rather than fanning the embers of discord in the media. Our choking security challenges should not be compounded with political conundrum,” the governor said.