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NGF Crisis: I Remain Chairman – Amaechi

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The crack in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) widened Tuesday as factional Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Governor Rotimi Amaechi insisted that he was elected chairman of the forum, following the inability of the governors to arrive at a consensus candidate.

He further fired a salvo at the factional chairman of the NGF, Jonah Jang of Plateau State, saying there cannot be two secretariat for the forum.

The NGF had split over an election, with the other faction led by Jonah Jang, last week saying that there was no election.

But speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Amaechi said the controversy generated by the NGF election is  has become distracting for the governors and expressed optimism that the other faction will see reasons to stop their grand-standing.

He also upbraided his Ondo State counterpart, governor, Olusegun Mimiko for lying that he (Mimiko) did not vote at the election. Amaechi added “I am willing to go with him to his Church, Redeemed Church, we will kneel in the alter and say it before God.”

Accompanied by his Ekiti State counterpart, Kayode Fayemi, and the director general of the forum, Dr Asishana Okauru, Amaechi warned that the controversy arising from the NGF election might affect the stand of Nigerians in the course of the 2015 election.

He said the controversial video vindicated his victory at the election despite his initial attempt to protect some of his colleagues by prevailing on the governor who recorded the election proceeding. He however refuted claims that a camera was planted during the election.

Amaechi said “we are busy here at Abuja and different state headquarters talking about NGF election, when indeed Nigerians are dying of poverty and hunger. There are such much resource we can apply to see how much we can manage this crisis that Nigerians have found themselves.

“I believe that my brothers and colleagues will see reason why we should stop distracting the country and get the country united to focus on development because at the end of the day it is about legacy, it is about what we will leave behind for the people. Get the peer review committee to please visit these states so that we don’t get distracted, let leave the politics of NGF to the politicians, why you focus on the issues of development.

On the impact of the crisis ahead of 2015 Amaechi said “I think that it is up to Nigerians to know that nothing pays more than democracy, the right to chose who you want to chose and the governors having made their choice, we can only do one thing but stand by the choice the governors have made. We should ensure that we don’t allow what  is happening now affect the stand of Nigerians in the course of the 2015 democracy. We are mature enough to manage our own democracy and our own election process.”

The Rivers State governor warned against the disbanding of the NGF.

He said”Governor of Edo state, Igbenedion who was one time chairman of the secretariat handed over the secretariat to Governor Saraki, who in turn handed over and so there cannot be two secretariat, there can’t be two secretariat, it is only one secretariat. For the interest of the country the governors must come together and work together and resolve their differences, so that we move together as a team because the country is listening and watching and it is important that we don’t allow the image of the governors be destroyed just because there are arguments on who is Chairman and on.

“Basically you know that when individuals are not able to reach a consensus the best form of choosing a leader is by election. All times we always had consensus because the other partner will say I am not going to run. In this case none of us agreed to step down for each other and the only way to go about it was to vote and we voted and one person emerged.

“It is important we make peace, it is important we come together. I don’t see what Chairman of Governors Forum can do for anybody, is just a person who preside over meetings of equal.”

He said “the election has come and gone and like I said it is a true test for democracy and democracy won at the end of the day. All we can do as democrats that were elected by the people is to uphold democracy and stand by democracy.

“I honestly do not know why the disagreement, I don’t know why. Those of you who have been in meetings will realise that even when we hold meetings, whatever decisions we have taken have always been unanimous and those of you who listen I always say to them, I hope that haven taken these decisions you will all stand by me and all of them will scream we will all stand by you.

“It was a meeting of 36 governors and then I think that whatever the issues are will be resolved. I think that we should focus more on those issues that unite us, those issues that fight against poverty, fight against polio and malaria. These are things that are killing the poor.

On the Ondo State governor voting, Amaechi said “Mimiko and I are Christians and I think he is a good Christian and one of the sins against God is the sin of lying. I am not saying he is lying but I am saying Mimiko voted. I was scared because at a stage seven governors refused to vote, I think they suspected that they will win and Mimiko was one of those who refused to vote, but when they whisper among themselves and they thought they will win they all casted their votes, when they were counting if you watch you will see that those governors who were pro-Amaechi voted first and those against him voted last.

When they counted Governor Jang eight times I was scare, if you watch the video you will hear I was saying count the ballot first, that was my responds to that confidence that make them to go and vote. My response was what was the confidence that make these people, I hope they have not rigged the election and I say to myself we are 35 and I want to see the 35 ballots, the first counting was there 35 ballots and I said okay I am satisfy, then you can then count who has what the number of ballots. Tell Mimiko that I said he voted. Mimiko voted, everybody there voted.”

On the controversial video Amaechi said “on the issue of video you will hear me shouting stop it, don’t record it because some governors rushed to me and said Chairman protect us, so, so governor is recording and the governor said why won’t I record, it was not a hidden thing. It was not that somebody put camera somewhere and was hidden, it was open thing. I said no you cannot record governors thing, we are responsible citizens and there is no disagreement here but then I was making a mistake because that video has turned out to be historical. I was protecting my colleagues who did not want it recorded and the governor who was recording said he will not stop and thank God he did not stop, if he had listen to me and stop maybe it will be more controversial than it is now.”

He however urge the factional chairman and governor of Plateau state , Jonah Jang, to say the truth of what transpired “because he said he is Christian to know that God watches over everybody and whatever you say, say it according to God because beyond NGF you and I know that there is heaven and you can’t go to heaven if you don’t tell the truth and stand by the truth.”

“I am not saying he is not saying the truth, I am not saying he is not standing by the truth, I am just saying that nobody can go to heaven when he is not saying the truth.

“It is really a battle, it is about God, I usually tell people don’t win the battle and loose the way. I agree that all of us will come together and work for the interest of Nigerians. We should allow our personal interest to override the interest of the nation.”

He said “the election has come and gone and like I said it is a true test for democracy and democracy won at the end of the day. All we can do as democrats that were elected by the people is to uphold democracy and stand by democracy.

“I honestly do not know why the disagreement, I don’t know why. Those of you who have been in meetings will realise that even when we hold meetings, whatever decisions we have taken have always been unanimous and those of you who listen I always say to them, I hope that haven taken these decisions you will all stand by me and all of them will scream we will all stand by you.

“It was a meeting of 36 governors and then I think that whatever the issues are will be resolved. I think that we should focus more on those issues that unite us, those issues that fight against poverty, fight against polio and malaria. These are things that are killing the poor.”