NGF election: the true story – Fayemi

By The Rainbow

Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said that Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi was the clear winner of the Friday Nigerian Governors Forum election.

Fayemi said that members of Pro-jang group which is equally claiming victory in the same election were merely distorting the truth.

Fayemi is a member of Action Congress of Nigeria, main opposition party, whose members rooted for Amaechi.

The Ekiti governor, in a statement, said: 'The attention of the leadership of the Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF) has been drawn to the distortion of the events leading to the election of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as Chairman of the Forum at its election held in Abuja on Friday.

'We are particularly worried about the deliberate misrepresentation of events at the election in the media by some members of the Forum in the bid to justify the setting up of a parallel group, following the defeat of Governor Jonah Jang in the keenly contested chairmanship election.

'While we are not interested in joining issues with the pro-Jang group in their smear campaign in the media, we feel compelled to correct some of the negative impressions being created in the minds of unsuspecting members of the public through a pot pourri of fabricated stories and outright lies.

'It is on record that all the 35 governors present voted and there is an electronic evidence of this, and Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, served as the Returning Officer in the Friday election that produced Governor Amaechi as chairman of NGF.

'Whereas the pro-Jang group had reportedly premised their position on earlier endorsement of Governor Jang's candidature by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum and the Northern Governors Forum, it suffices to state without any fear of contradiction that endorsement of a candidate does not translate to actual votes in any election.

'And even if they want to claim it as the result of the election, how come it was originally dated April and contained the names of Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State and Governor Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe State who were absent ?

'A candidate can have countless endorsements ahead of an election, but electoral victory is determined mainly by the number of votes he is able to garner at the election.

'Having won the election, Governor Amaechi had demonstrated statesmanship by making his acceptance speech, which dwelled on his readiness to work with his opponent, Governor Jang and the need for the governors to work with the President of the country, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, in moving the country forward.

'Contrary to the rather bizarre position being canvassed by the pro-Jang group, we do not see any reason for us to demonstrate that we won the election.

' The result of the election, as announced by the electoral officer, is clear on the victory of Governor Amaechi. Rushing to Abuja to create the impression of being the so-called authentic Governors' Forum is not only childish but petty.

'At an appropriate time, a meeting of the Forum will be convened. For now, we are busy concentrating on our developmental work in our individual states rather than indulging in smear campaigns and distortions.

'We implore members of the public not to be hoodwinked by these deliberate distortions in the media. We also urge the media to help enlighten the public on the issues at stake in a bid to build a more enduring democracy.'

But the Delta State governor denied that he was the Returning Officer.

According to him, the Director-General of the NGF, Mr. Asissama Okauru, was the Returning Officer.

He said Amaechi requested him to be his agent and he replied that he would like to be the agent for both the Rivers State governor and his opponent which generated laughter.

He added, however, that the votes were counted openly by the NGF DG and so, there was no need for an agent for either candidate.

Meanwhile, the Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, who claimed he was the duly elected Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), has thanked his colleagues for the confidence reposed in him to serve them as the leader of NGF and pledged to work for the interest of the Forum and country.

Governor Jang made these remarks while addressing the media after an inaugural meeting of which he presided as the Chairman.

In a communiqué signed by Governor Jang and his Deputy, the Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, they vowed to unite members of the NGF, and work for the unity of the country.

According to the communiqué, the Forum restated 'its commitment to continue being a platform for peer review, productive and collaborative engagement with all levels of governments.

The Forum also resolved to continue to encourage and collaborate with President Goodluck Jonathan to restore peace and security in the country and to secure a befitting permanent secretariat outside any Governor's Lodge and thanked all Nigerians for their support while promising not to let them down.

Addressing the media, the Deputy Chairman of the Northern Governors' Forum, Gabriel Suswam said in an earlier meeting of the Forum presided over by Babangida Aliyu, they had unanimously adopted Governor Jang as the consensus Chairman and they stood by that decision.

In the same vein, the Chairman of the South-East Governors' Forum, Peter Obi, and the Chairman of the South-South Governors' Forum and Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke also announced the decision of the Governors in their zone to support the leadership of Governor Jang.

Fielding questions from newsmen, Governor Suswam described as fraudulent the process that purportedly produced Governor Chibuike Amaechi and said even in a village council election, an out-going Chairman cannot preside over his own election.

He said it was in acceptance of the leadership of Governor Jang that 18 Governors turned up for the inaugural meeting despite the less than 12-hour notice and expressed optimism that the next meeting would bring more Governors to the fold.

In attendance at the meeting were the Governors of Plateau, Kogi, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Abia and Ondo. Others were the Governors of Katsina, Kaduna, Delta, Anambra, Taraba, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa Gombe and Kwara States.