NGF election: Amaechi returned as Chairman

By The Citizen
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Friday marked the end intrigues and political permutations among the 36 state governors that lasted for months with the election of Governor Rotimi Amaechi as the chairman of the Nigerian Governors' Forum for a second term, despite all the odds against his reelection.

The election, which was held at the Rivers State Governor's Lodge, in Abuja was witnessed by 35 out of the 36 state governors.

Only the governor of Yobe, Ibrahim Geidam, was not at the venue of the election and was not represented.

Amaechi defeated his only rival, Mr. Jonah Jang, who is the governor of Plateau State by three votes.

While Amaechi poled 19 votes, Jang got 16.
Also elected as the deputy chairman of the forum was the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulazees Yari, who was unopposed.

His rival for the position, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, had voluntarily withdrawn from the race.

Announcing the result of the election, the Returning Officer for the election, who is also the Director-General of the forum, Mr. Asishana Okauru, said the election was free, fare and well contested.

He said, 'The governor of Yobe was not present. We counted all the votes and the chairman, Chibuke Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State emerged winner with a total of 19 votes against the governor of Plateau State, who secured a total of 16 votes.

'Now, for the vice-chairman, it is important to announce to you that there were four candidates, two of the candidates withdrew from the race but they participated in the voting process.

'Governors Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State also participated in the election. At the end, it is clear that the chairman emerged as the chairman for the next two years. The vice-chairman position was also up and there were two candidates: Governors Mimiko and Yari.

'But the governor of Ondo withdrew from the race and yielded the position to the governor of Zamfara, who, as from today, is the vice-chairman of the NGF.'

As soon as the results were announced, the opposition governors, including some PDP governors, were seen exchanging greetings. They also shook hands as they sang songs of joy.

Amaechi, in his brief remarks, said he was happy and would work with all the governors, including those that did not vote for him.

He affirmed the forum's commitment towards supporting President Goodluck Jonathan to fight insecurity and reduce tension and uncertainty in the country.

Amaechi said the forum would back President Jonathan to achieve the development dream of Nigerians.

He also pledged the forum's resolve to work alongside the President to improve the living standard of Nigerians through transparent and accountable stewardship.

He expressed gratitude to his colleagues for their tenacity and determination to ensure the unity of the forum and the nation in general.

'Today, our democracy was tested and proven. Democracy is about participation. The aim of democratic governance is for everyone to partake in winning.

'Today, the governors have spoken with one voice, reaffirming our faith in democratic governance as the hope of Nigeria's future.

'I must thank my colleagues for their tenacity and determination to ensure the unity of the forum but more importantly of our nation.

'We remain committed to supporting our leader, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to realise the development dream of all Nigerians by reducing tension, uncertainty and insecurity in our beloved country.

'We want to pledge our steadfastness and resolve to work alongside Mr. President to better the lives of our people as we render transparent and accountable stewardship,' Amaechi said.

Similarly, the NGF Director-General, Dr. Asishana Okauru, explained that the forum under the leadership of Governor Amaechi was eager to work with the Federal Government to achieve its (FG) development programmes for Nigerians.

Okauru pointed out that Amaechi's determination to assist the Federal Government to develop the country made him (Amaechi) to go for a second term as the NGF chairman.

'The chairman (Amaechi) won and the election was transparent as every governor except one voted. His victory portends well for Nigeria.

'Amaechi means well for the country and he is eager to work with the Federal Government to achieve the best for Nigerians,' Okauru stressed.

Okauru was, however, silent on the issue of external interference in the affairs of the forum before the election.

But immediately the election was over, some of the opposition governors, led by the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party's Governors Forum, Chief Godswill Akpabio, headed for the Akwa Ibom Governor's Lodges, where they said they rejected the result.

Jang, who spoke at the briefing, said he stood by the pre-election arrangement, where the PDP governors endorsed him as their candidate.

However, before going for the election, some PDP governors had endorsed Jang and asked both Shema and Yuguda to step down. Both aspirants agreed and signed a statement to that effect.

The two governors said they were doing that for Jang.

But at the briefing, Jang insisted that the stepping down of the two aspirants and his endorsement was enough to guarantee his success.

Akpabio said that Amaechi ought to have stepped down before the conduct of the election, adding that there was no way an incumbent could be in office while an election was being conducted.

When asked about the position of the NGF's constitution on the matter, he refused to answer.

He said as far as he and members of his group were concerned, Jang remained the chairman of the NGF while Mimiko was his deputy.

Akpabio also refused to state why he and his group agreed to be part of the election when they noticed the perceived anomalies.

Those who were at the briefing were the governors of Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Cross River, Abia, Kogi, Bauchi, Ondo, Delta, Anambra, Enugu and Kogi states.

It was gathered that some of the PDP governors were not happy with the emergence of Jang as the consensus candidate and decided to vote for Amaechi.

This might have resulted in the defeat of Jang.
The voting process, which was by secret balloting, was said to have worked against Jang.

Jang read a statement, which was signed by the 19 governors that endorsed him to buttress the claim that he won the election.

He said, 'The northern governors met in the morning and both Shema and Yuguda agreed to step down and I was asked to take their place.

The PDP governors also agreed and endorsed the action.

'Any further discussion about the Nigeria Governors' Forum, I should be addressed as the chairman of the forum as from today.

'We the undersigned governors of the Nigerian Governors' Forum having taken cognisance of the state of the nation and the perception of the Nigerian people, do hereby resolve as follows:

'That we thank the outgoing chairman, His Excellency, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State for his leadership and achievements;

'That we strongly agree for a change of leadership of the forum from May 2013 to May 2015.

'We hereby elect His Excellency, Jonah Jang of Plateau State as the new chairman,' the statement said.

While the entire statement was typed, the name of Jang was written with pen, which indicated that his coming into the race was not predetermined.

Those who signed the statement were the governors of Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue, Anambra, Kogi, Ondo, Plateau, Kaduna, Enugu, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Delta, Abia, Katsina, Yobe, Cross River and Kwara.

The statement was signed before the voting.
As soon as Jang finished reading his speech, the Governor of Bayelea State, Seriake Dickson, said there should be no question from journalists.

The Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, said he was going to introduce his successor as the deputy chairman of the forum.

He later raised the hands of Mimiko.
Akpabio said there was no election and that what happened was not a valid election.

Before the election, governors from the northern states met in the morning, but sources at the meeting said the governors were unable to arrive at a consensus candidate.

Our correspondent observed that telephone communication was jammed at the venue of the election to prevent the governors from being influenced by outsiders, probably from the Presidency or PDP leadership.

This was the first time that such a situation would happen since the governors have been having their meetings.

As soon as Jang finished reading his speech, the Governor of Bayelea State, Seriake Dickson, said there should be no question from journalists.

The Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, said he was going to introduce his successor as the deputy chairman of the forum.

He later raised the hands of Mimiko.
Akpabio said there was no election and that what happened was not a valid election.

Before the election, governors from the northern states met in the morning, but sources at the meeting said the governors were unable to arrive at a consensus candidate.

Our correspondent observed that telephone communication was jammed at the venue of the election to prevent the governors from being influenced by outsiders, probably from the Presidency or PDP leadership.

This was the first time that such a situation would happen since the governors have been having their meetings.


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