By Jide Ajani, Dayo Benson & Henry Umoru
CALABAR—CROSS River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, said yesterday, that all the 28 governors of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, were behind the President and would  carry on with their support if he decides to contest next year’s presidential polls.

This came just as President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to meet state governors in Lagos today in continuation of his consultations on his political future.

Meantime, the PDP Governors’ meeting for the purpose of picking a consensus presidential candidate for next year’s elections ended in a deadlock, yesterday, as the governors were split over the choice of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Speaking in Calabar yesterday when he granted audience to a select group of journalists, Imoke said it had become imperative for the governors to back Jonathan because as the leader of the country, he needs all the support he could get to succeed.

He said that as Chairman of the South South Governors Forum, he owed the region a duty to project Jonathan to the country and work for his success at all times.

He said though the PDP has agreed to retain the zoning formula, the party had also agreed to allow Jonathan to contest, adding that they would do everything possible to support the President.

Imoke said the support of the governors was very crucial if the country’s democracy was to make a headway, stressing that it was wrong for Nigerians to assume that the governors had become too powerful now.

He said the alleged influence of the governors played a stabilising factor for the country during the illness of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the subsequent emergence of Jonathan as acting president in February this year.

Imoke said: “Our influence did not start today. It was not by accident. If you look at what happened in 2003 and 2007, the governors were very visible in political activities of the country. In fact in 2007, governors emerged both as the President and Vice President. So if you consider the crucial role we play in the sustenance of this democracy, you won’t say we are too powerful.”

On whether the President should sign the amended constitution before it becomes operational, Imoke urged Nigerians to savour the joy of achieving a huge feat by the amendment process, saying the country should not dissipate energy on technicalities which might later overcome the success recorded.

PDP govs split over Jonathan

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governors’ meeting for the purpose of picking a consensus presidential candidate for next year’s elections ended in a deadlock, yesterday, as the governors were split over the choice of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Vanguard gathered that the meeting, which lasted more than four hours, became very stormy between those in support of Jonathan, who were in the majority, and those who were opposed to him

The meeting which was held at the Kwara State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, was billed to commence at 8.00 pm, but did not start until 9.00 p.m, Tuesday night and ended 1.15 a.m, yesterday, with the Chairman, Governors’ Forum and the Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, presiding.

It was gathered that the governors had earlier discussed with President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, and that the President informed them that he would be seeking the party’s nomination.

Thereafter, the governors returned to the Asokoro meeting to take a position.

Vanguard learnt that while the governors were meeting, the National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, also held an all night meeting with the 36 states’ chairmen and that of the Federal Capital Territory.

It was understood that the meeting was designed by the chairman to reach out to all stakeholders ahead of the elections, especially before the leadership of the party issued guidelines for the primaries.

A source told Vanguard that the meeting which ended at 1.00 a..m, yesterday, was part of the chairman’s consultative meetings with the leaders on how to arrive at decisions that would be favourable to all members of the party across the country. The meeting took place at the National Secretariat of the Party, Wadata Plaza.

Vanguard gathered that at the PDP governors’ meeting, all the South South governors spoke in favour of President Goodluck Jonathan contesting, just as the Southwest governors also spoke solidly in favour of Jonathan contesting the 2011 presidential election.

The source said the President faced very strong opposition from the Northern governors, where the ten governors that had earlier insisted that zoning should be retained, maintained their position at the meeting. It was gathered that as the meeting progressed, it got to a point that the PDP governors asked their Chairman, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to tell them whether he had an interest in contesting to become the presidential candidate of the party.

The source said that when Saraki failed to give the governors an answer on whether he was contesting for the Presidency, he was then asked to state his position because of his opposition to the presidential aspiration of President Jonathan.

Governors in support of Jonathan

Those who championed the presidency of Jonathan in 2011 at the meeting were Governors Jonah Jang of Plateau, and Gabriel Suswam of Benue State.

Opposing governors

Those who were opposed to Jonathan’s presidential aspiration were Governors of Kebbi,  Zamfara, Bauchi and Katsina states. It was gathered at the meeting that these governors were at the forefront of those opposing the presidential aspiration of Jonathan, even as the source said:  “This is understandable, because they were the same group that insisted on zoning when we met to take a position on the same matter in Kaduna last month.”

At the end of the meeting, the governors left, just as the governors of Rivers, Kwara, Bauchi and Delta began another meeting which lasted for thirty minutes. At the end of the meeting, the Delta State governor left at 1.15 a.m, while his Bauchi State counterpart came out at 1.45am.

Chairman of the Governors’ Forum and Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who left the venue of the meeting at about 2.00 a.m, refused to speak to the waiting journalists.

It was gathered that the governors’ inability to arrive at a compromise following a very strong division among them, made it impossible for the governors to issue a communiqué on the meeting.

Governors that attended the meeting

Present at the meeting were governors of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio; Isa Yuguda of Bauchi; Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa; Gabriel Suswam of Delta; Liyel Imoke of Cross River; Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta; and Martin Elechi of Ebonyi. The others were Segun Oni of Ekiti; Sullivan Chime of Enugu; Ikedi Ohakim of Imo; Sule Lamido of Jigawa; Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa of Kaduna and Ibrahim Shema of Katsina.

The rest were Usman Saidu Nasamu of Kebbi; Bukola Saraki of Kwara; Aliyu Akwe Doma of Nasarawa; Christopher Alao-Akala of Oyo; Jonah Jang of Plateau; and Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi of Zamfara while the deputy governors of Niger, and Taraba were also present.

Governors who were absent at the meeting

Governors Murtala Nyako of Adamawa; Mohammed Goje of Gombe; Ibrahim Idris of Kogi and Aliyu Wamako of Sokoto were absent at the meeting.

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