NGF crisis: Amaechi invites governors to shun factional meeting with Jang

By The Citizen

The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF), Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Saturday, asked his colleagues to shun a meeting called by a factional chairman of the forum, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State.

Jang, in a letter sent to governors on Friday, had invited them for a meeting holding in Abuja later today.

The Rivers governor, in a message on Saturday, said it was wrong for Jang to continue calling for meetings when it was apparent that he did not win the forum's chairmanship election.

He described Jang as an impostor and asked the governors not to honour his invitation.

Amaechi said, 'Jang is an impostor. NGF members should steer clear of him.'

The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, in a telephone interview also said that only Amaechi had the power to call for NGF meetings.

Semenitari said Amaechi remained the duly elected NGF chairman and the situation had not changed.

'I am not a member of the Nigeria Governors' Forum. But I am aware that Governor Rotimi Amaechi is the chairman of the NGF. Having scored 19 votes against Governor Jang's 16 votes during the election, his (Amaechi) position as the chairman of the forum is not in doubt. I believe he (Amaechi) is the only one that can call for a meeting,' she said.

In response to Jang's invitation, some northern governors, who had supported Amaechi during the election, vowed not to attend the meeting.

The Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko, said he would not attend the meeting because Jang was not validly elected.

Wamakko, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Sani Umar, also faulted Jang's call for the meeting, saying, 'How can we attend such a meeting? We are not part of him. We won't be there because he was not validly elected.'

Also, the Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, said he would not attend the meeting because Jang was not qualified to convene such a meeting.

Nyako, who spoke through his Director of Press, Ahmed Sajo, said, 'Jang is not the leader of the NGF. He can't call for NGF meeting and as we speak there is no call for any meeting. We won't be there.'

However, it was learnt the Governor of Niger State,  Babangida Aliyu, and his Kano State counterpart, Rabiu Kwakwanso, were attending Umral in Saudi Arabia.

However, Aliyu's Chief Press Secretary, Danladi Ndayebo, and Kwakwanso's Director of Press, Baba Dantiye, confirmed their bosses' absence from the country.

Some South-West governors also declined the invitation stating that they were not party to the Jang's group.

The Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, said he would not attend the meeting because of his support for Amaechi.

Aregbesola, who spoke through his Commissioner for Regional Planning and Special Duties, Mr. Ajibola Basiru, on Saturday, said it was wrong to describe the group of governors supporting Jang as a faction of the governors' forum.

He said, 'Governor Aregbesola cannot be at the meeting called by Governor Jang. There's nothing like Jang faction because an election was conducted and a clear winner emerged. In an election, the majority have their way while the minority would have their say.

'Governor Aregbesola is an avowed democrat; if his candidate lost the governors' forum election, he would have conceded defeat. It is unfortunate that some people are just grandstanding.'

Ajibola said Aregbesola was billed to attend a meeting of the 'progressive governors' forum' scheduled to hold in one of the northern states next week, stressing that Amaechi remained the authentic chairman of the governors' forum.

Also, an official of the Oyo State Government, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on Saturday, said Governor Abiola Ajimobi would not attend Jang's meeting.

He said one of the reasons why Ajimobi would be absent was that the Jang's faction of NGF was not a product of 'democratic consensus.'

He said, 'As you and I know, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State does not have a hand in such an undemocratic arrangement. For him to attend such a meeting is unthinkable. The governor cannot be a party to such a forum.'

In the same vein, the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has also turned down the invitation to attend the meeting of the NGF faction led by Jang.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, while speaking on behalf of his boss, said Fayemi did not recognise Jang as the chairman of the NGF and would not attend any meeting called by him.

He said, 'As far as Governor Kayode Fayemi is concerned, Governor Rotimi Amaechi is the chairman of the NGF and he is the only one who has the right to call the forum's meeting.'

The Ogun State Governor, Mr. Ibikunle Amosun, also declined Jang's invitation.

The state Commissioner for Information, Yusuf Olaniyonu, said Amosun had repeatedly said the NGF chairman he voted for was Amaechi.

'Making a right deduction from that statement, it is obvious he will only attend a meeting of the NGF organised by Amaechi,' he said.

However in contrast, the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, said he would attend any NGF meeting convened by Jang.

Mimiko has been a staunch supporter of Jang's leadership.

Mimiko's Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Eni Akinsola, told one of our correspondents on Saturday that his principal would not shun any meeting convened by Jang.

He said, 'My simple response is that Mr. Governor would attend any meeting called by Governor Jang because they are together.'

In his reaction, Plateau State Commission for Information and Communications, Abraham Yiljap, said, 'While Governor Jang made efforts to get everybody on board, he must also continue with the business of running the NGF.

'The issues on the agenda are too important to wait for some other time. Remember too that the NGF is a voluntary platform and there can be no compulsion in attendance.

'The governor still calls on his colleagues to let the love for the nation override whatever excuses they may have for wanting to stay away.'

But the Kwara State Governor, Mr. Abdulfatah Ahmed, said he was not aware of the meeting of the NGF called by Jang.

In an email response, his Senior Special Assistant, Media and Communications, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, said Ahmed had not been officially notified or invited for the meeting.

It should be recalled that Governor Amaechi won the forum's May 24, 2013 chairmanship election with 19 votes as against Jang's 16, but the Plateau governor insisted he won the election. - Punch.