SOUTH-SOUTH GOVERNORS SEEK TRUCE WITH PRESIDENT
Chief Timipre Sylva
Some governors in the South-South states believed to have had political differences with President Goodluck Jonathan may have initiated moves to reconcile with him.
A source in the Presidency, who made this known to our correspondent on Monday, said the governors' actions were primarily meant to brighten their political ambitions and ensure their relevance in the new dispensation.
Investigation showed that the emergence of Jonathan, first as Acting President and thereafter as President on May 6, altered the permutations of the governors, especially those elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, regarding the 2011 general elections.
It was also learnt that the governors were convinced that Jonathan, who automatically became the leader of the PDP in line with the constitution of the party, would play dominant role in the realisation of their future political plans.
The source mentioned Chief Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa); Mr. Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); Chief Godwill Akpabio (Akwa-Ibom); and Mr. Liyel Imoke (Cross River) as some of the governors.
Some of the governors were accused of bankrolling various efforts to scuttle the emergence of Jonathan as Acting President when the health of the late President worsened.
One of such allegations was that they sponsored anti-Jonathan lawmakers in the National Assembly. They were also accused of mobilising their colleagues from other parts of the country to frustrate the constitutional right of Jonathan to succeed Yar'Adua.
It was learnt that Jonathan was at a point worried that he lacked solid political base in the zone, especially in his home state, Bayelsa, to provide impetus for the realisation of his aspiration at the national level.
The Presidency source, who declined to be named, told our correspondent that the governors were jittery that Jonathan might ensure that his loyalists won PDP's governorship tickets for the 2011 poll in their states.
He said that some of the governors had not only become regular faces in the Presidency but had also approached political godfathers and associates of Jonathan to make a case for them.
The source said, 'The governors of the South South, particularly those elected on the platform of the PDP are practically on their kneels now begging President Jonathan, to put the events of the recent past, especially their inglorious roles in scuttling his constitutional right to succeed the late former President Yar'Adua, behind him.
'They are asking him (Jonathan) to forgive and forget and they are not sparing any effort to seek truce and understanding with the President. Already, they (South-South governors) have established contacts with the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan; former President Olusegun Obasanjo; the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.); and the Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, to help them out.'
He said that the congratulatory message by Sylva to Jonathan, in which he eulogised him bore eloquent testimony to the readiness of the governors of the South-South states to seek a new path with the President.
Sylva had in the message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Doifie Ola, described the President as 'a pride of the Niger Delta.'
The governor added, 'You are a remarkable man, a rare patriot with a pleasant personality and a wonderful intellect. Nigeria is lucky to have you and Bayelsa State, indeed, Niger Delta, is very lucky to have you as one of our own.'
Our source said, 'At least you can see the congratulatory message by Governor Sylva to the President where he praised him (Jonathan) to high heavens.
'Could Sylva have made such statement about the President some weeks back? And Sylva is not alone, all the PDP governors in the South-South are struggling for the recognition of the President so that they can sell a dummy to their followers, who are already disillusioned, that they are solid in the Presidency and at the national level.
'The governors are wary of their political future under the new dispensation in the Presidency and the current status of President Jonathan as leader of the PDP. They are eager to reconcile with him (Jonathan).'
An aide to one of the governors, who confirmed the moves for a truce, said his boss had no option than to seek reconciliation with the President.
He said, 'My governor in particular is desperate to be close to President Jonathan and he has joined his colleagues to approach some eminent Nigerians to assist them to prevail on the President to forgive them.
'That is politics for you, they (the governors) never expected that he would ever become President of this country just like that. They never respected the President Jonathan and they did not hide it.
'But our governor told his aides in Abuja on Sunday that he has sent messages to his supporters in the state that he is gradually warming himself to the President and that everybody should remain calm.'
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Imma Niboro, neither picked calls nor replied text messages sent to his mobile telephone on the matter on Monday.