By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Taye Obateru
LAGOS — Governors Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Jonah Jang of Plateau State were, yesterday, locked in a war of words over their claims to the chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF.
Amaechi, told his Plateau State colleague to stop impersonating him as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, and urged him to keep within the bounds of decorum.
Jang in a riposte dismissed Amaechi’s charge as funny. Jang reiterated his claim that his endorsement by 19 Northern governors was tantamount to an election, boasting that he was set to show his superior claim at a meeting of the forum he has summoned for today.
The exchange followed Governor Jang’s summon of a meeting of the NGF for today ahead of a scheduled meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan over disputes on the sharing of the federation account for the month of May.
Governor Amaechi while urging governors to honour the meeting with the president, however, disowned the meeting of the NGF summoned by Jang.
Governors stick to their earlier positions
Yesterday, several governors stood on their previous positions in the NGF. Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, NSGF, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, it was learnt, was outside the country and may not send a representative to the Jang meeting. His colleague in Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam who is also outside the country on official assignment, could send a representative to attend the Jang meeting.
“Any meeting called by Governor Jang as chairman of the NGF would be honoured by Governor Suswam,” an aide said. Several other governors, it was learnt, yesterday, stuck to their known positions on the division in the NGF.
Governor Amaechi in a statement yesterday said: “On Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16, reports in the media credited to my brother governor, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State announced that he has called for a Nigeria Governors’ Forum meeting. Ordinarily I would have ignored these reports as I do not imagine that as governors who hold our people’s mandate through the democratic process of free and fair elections, we would do anything to impugn our integrity.
“However as Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, elected by my colleagues to safeguard their integrity and that of the forum, it has become imperative for me to request my brother, Governor Jang, to remain within the confines of decorum and cease to impersonate me and to stop parading himself as NGF chairman. There is only one chairman of the forum, duly elected by a vote tally of 19:16 on Friday, May 24, 2013.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I as chairman of the NGF have not called for any Governors’ Forum meeting for Monday, June 17, 2013. The only meeting scheduled for Monday June 17, is a meeting of all Governors with His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan scheduled to hold at 9pm at Aso Rock Villa. All governors should please ensure attendance at this meeting with Mr. President.
This storm shall pass — Amaechi
“I wish to reassure my brother governors that this storm shall pass and we all will be reunited as one family committed to our nation’s unity and supporting Mr. President in his vision for a Nigeria that safeguards the rights of all its citizens to good governance and democratic norms.
“Governor Jang is my brother and friend and I harbour no ill feelings against him, but it is important that he stops this impersonation, as it could threaten all the good work we all have done together.
“May I remind Governor Jang that there is a legal action that has been instituted against him by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State to stop him from parading himself as the chairman of NGF. As leaders elected by our people, Nigerians are closely watching us. We must comport ourselves according to the dictates and principles of democratic and lawful practices and norms.”
We’ll see today — Jang
Responding to Amaechi, Jang through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ayuba Pam described Amaechi’s assertion as funny.
Asserting that he was elected by the majority of governors and was in no way impersonating anybody, Jang said:
“It is funny to say that a man who was nominated by consensus by the Northern governors who are 19 and presented to the larger meeting of the governors would impersonate anybody. It is all about who is in charge of the forum and tomorrow’s (today’s) meeting convened by Jang will show who really has the support of majority of the governors.
“We do not want to join issues with Governor Amaechi because he is still a member of the governors’ family and just like Governor Jang has said repeatedly, this is a family problem that would be resolved amicably.
“All we can do is to appeal to Governor Amaechi to extend the same cooperation that Jang gave him when he was the chairman of the forum to Jang. Jang was always among the first governors to be in Abuja each time he (Amaechi) called a meeting and we urge him to reciprocate this. We even encourage him to attend tomorrow’s meeting convened by Jang because the agenda is for the benefit of every state”, he said.