NGF Crisis: We Jang supporters almost smashed ballot box, says Gov. Mimiko

By The Rainbow

Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, said the anti-Rotimi Amaechi camp of the Nigeria Governors' Forum almost smashed the ballox box used for the May 24 election which returned the Rivers State Governor to office as chair of the Forum.

Speaking in an interview with the PUNCH, Mr. Mimiko, said once Mr. Amaechi insisted on running in the election, his camp considered two options - walk out of the election venue or smash the ballot box used for the poll.

Mr. Amaechi had at the election, captured on video, defeated his only challenger and an ally of Mr. Mimiko, Jonah Jang 19 to 16 votes, despite massive opposition from the presidency and the top hierarchy of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

But the Ondo governor and a handful of his colleagues have continued to root for the loser of the election and have indeed set up a parallel office for the NGF.

In the interview, the Ondo governor said, 'There were two options open to us:  Either we walked out. But if we had walked out, there is a viral input in that constitution which also says that the quorum is 12.

'So, if we had walked out, there was no guarantee that certain people wouldn't have sat down there and called the press to witness a 'free and fair election.'

'Of course, the other option was the Nigerian way: Take the ballot and smash it; let there be crisis.

'But you also know that such behaviour is not expected from a governor. Some governors were almost tempted to do that, but we kept saying we should not do it in the interest of Nigeria. It is better for us to come out and say we participated and keep defending it and we know that time will bear us out.'

Mr. Mimiko also said his camp was also poised for a fight after Mr. Amaechi ruled that the election would go ahead in spite of opposition from his colleagues that he should either step down or that votes be cast by raising of hands.

'We were tempted to fight,' he said. 'At a stage, we then said in the interest of this forum, let us give him the opportunity to sit there, but if he was sitting there to preside over this election, we would not use his ballot papers.

'We then said it must be by show of hands. We were still arguing when he said Okauru (DG of NGF) should start distributing ballot papers.'

Even after a video clip of the election was released, Mr. Mimiko  has continued to insist that the election was manipulated and that the video was doctored.

'I insist that you must see the full video,' the Ondo governor said. 'Our meetings are quasi, informal meetings; if somebody out of disrespect for his own colleagues, or because of some predetermined notion decides to plant video, you should ask him for the whole video.'

He said Governor Jang remained the authentic chairman of the Forum because he was endorsed for the position by both the PDP Governors' Forum and the Northern States Governors' Forum.

'…None of the governors is happy with what is happening at the NGF but we are very optimistic that we will come out stronger,' he said. 'I think the best thing is for all of us to allow reason to prevail by doing the right thing.

'My position on this issue is clear. It is the turn of the North to produce the chairman and we should allow the Northern Governors' Forum to present its candidate by consensus. We should just forget about ego and do the right thing.'