NGF Election: Video Clip is Act of Immorality- Jang
Factional Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, (NGF) Governor Jonah Jang has said it was immoral and corrupt for any governor to have recorded the conduct of election by the governors as they were not aware of anybody mandated to record the event.
A video clip showing election proceedings had gone viral on the internet following the controversy whether or not there was an election by governors, which saw the re-election of Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State.
But Jang, who also is the Plateau State governor, said whoever recorded the event was immorally corrupt.
Flanked by three other governors including his vice chairman and governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, governor of Anambra and Cross River State, Jang at a press conference said “we are not afraid of the video but it raises a moral question. we did not see any camera. So for any governor, whether Amaechi fixed the camera, it is immorally wrong and corrupt and unbecoming of a gentleman, whoever did this.”
On moves to reconcile the forum Jang said “I have called a number of our colleagues and talked to them on the phone. I told them there is a need for us to come together and move the forum forward and give the forum the best leadership possible. And a number of them agreed that there is a need for us to meet and continue to talk. Who I have met is something we should keep quiet for now until we get to a certain level.”
He further explained why the forum under his leadership visited the President and other PDP chieftains, noting that there was intention to make the forum a PDP forum.
He said “you know we finished on Friday and it was weekend. It was only few people that were available and in town here in Abuja. It was quite a coincidence in that the fact the chairman of the forum is usually PDP as the majority party usually produces the chairman. So the PDP BoT chairman and party chairman were around. So I felt I should get the others but they were not in town.”
On his part governor Mimiko said what happened that day was regrettable, stressing that it was wrong for Amaechi to have presided over the election.
He said “I must say that not one of us is proud of what has happened. We don’t feel proud of what has happened. But some of us believe it is necessary to ensure that things are done right in this country. Let me also say that a few of us have received a lot of bashing over this issue.
But we believe that we must stand by what is true and just. But the fundamental question that will never go away no matter how you look at it is the fact that governors forum is a voluntary association of equals who have decided to come together to leverage on synergy and pursue their collecting interest. Everybody is there by volition, anybody can pull out without consequence. Secondly, no matter the amount of propaganda that goes on in the media, a situation where a chairman of a forum of equals decides to contest is one issue we can’t run away from. The issue of whether that is in tandem with the spirit and letter of the our constitution another governor can talk about that. This is not an ordinary election. There has been a lot of controversy, and posturing out there, some of them real some of them fake. But we know that all of this has a lot of politics in it unless we want to deceive ourselves. So if anything that election to a very large extent must reflect a standard of election in the polity.
“I keep saying this even as some one in the opposition, no matter what anybody says 2011 election was much better than it predecessors. No matter what anybody says the election that brought me and Oshiomole back were probably the best we have had in this country. So for me the irreducible minimum for ensuring 2015 comes to be is to ensure that the electoral process is improved on.
“I am one of those who believe that the biggest challenge of Nigeria as a nation is the quality of our election. Once we have quality election, I believe that with time credible election will throw up real leaders of the people who will ensure that the critical issues of the people are addressed. So from the perspective of this fundamental, some of us have argued that as chairman some of us have given you the position by consensus, if willy nilly you say you want to contest an election the minimum is for you to align with the international accepted standard.
“And immediately the chairman indicated interest to run, I specifically said, even in a village meeting or association once the tenure has elapsed and the presiding officer, in this case the chairman has indicated interest, he must first dissolve the house and we then we will elect a temporary man who will preside over our affairs until a new chairman emerges and we must also agree on the process of that election especially in a voluntary organisation and also if what you claim as constitution does not spell clearly what has to be done. Last friday immediately the chairman indicated that he was going to run, willy nilly, and I say willy nilly deliberately because, there has always been a practise in the forum that chairman of governors forum has always emerged by consensus and that the majority party always produced chairman in this case the PDP. We also know of a fact that PDP forum had endorsed governor Jang. Be that as it may, the moment Amaechi insisted he was going to run we insisted that he had to vacate the seat so that we can bring in somebody to conduct the affair of the house. For me that was fundamental.
“But if somebody in a meeting of equals planted cameras probably because it is his house or somebody out of disrespect because we were all governors there, decides to start videoing something we should ask him some questions. We should ask Amaechi, if indeed you have to run convention common sense demands that you should vacate the seat.
“But a situation where Amaechi, last friday indicated that he was going to run, insisted that he was not going to vacate the seat and there was a lot of commotion in the house. At a point one of the governors said those of us who ran for second term did not vacate our seat before election. And I pointed out that yes I ran for re-election and I did not vacate my seat but I was not the INEC, I did not print the ballot papers. You cannot be a candidate and be your own INEC and at the same time produce ballot box.
You know the number of ballot sheets you produced, there are serial numbers on them , we don’t know the colour and all. For me that was a point of departure. Some of us felt it would be immoral to go along with this. At a stage we argued,because we went there to ensure that the forum comes out with a united front, we said okay lets us give you the opportunity that if you are sitting there to preside we will not use your ballot box or papers.
“We are all governors, we can do the election with raise of hands. Any governor that cannot show his conviction is not qualified to be a governor. So we were still arguing when he told the DG to start issuing ballot papers. There were two options open to us. And when some people started abusing us I said it is good to take a bashing in the interest of this country. So a situation where a man decides top preside over his election, we either walk out. Now there is also an issue that a quorum of 36 is 12 so if we had walked out they would have called the press to witness that the election is free and fair. And we felt that was not going to be a fair representation of opinions. Of course the other option was the Nigerian way, take the ballot and smash it. But you know that kind of behaviour is beyond a governor. I must tell you that some governors were tempted to do that. But we felt it was better for them to come out and say we participated and keep defending it. we know that time will bear us out.
Don’t forget that we were 35 governors, there was no governor that did not have five or six security aides, so you are talking about 360 people armed.
“At the end of the day they said they have 19, let them produce any video in this world whether they will see me any where near their virus-infected ballot box. But we were 35 they counted whether those ballot papers were pre marked, I cannot say that governors did not vote, but I am sure that what they counted did not represent the opinion of the governors on that day.
“So victory in this case for Amaechi would have been if everybody endorsed him. And apart from all that the following day, forget about the fact that Amaechi has succeeded in playing the under dog, and you know you journalist like under dog, but you know if the aggressor is smart he can transform himself to play the under dog.
“But the following day governor Jang called a meeting of governors, 18 were physically present and signed. If there was a doubt before they signed again reiterating their support for him. 18 governors came out to be counted for Jang the following day as against 19 in some dubious ballot papers which was designed by the candidate and some video clip.
“So what we have is an evidence of a flawed video clip and ballot papers without signature, thumb print versus elected governors standing to be counted physically. I would have expected press to say any governor whose signature has been forged to own up.”