…Amaechi, Jang reject step down
By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North & Ben AGANDE
ABUJA —The trouble-shooting mission of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the internal wrangling rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has ended in a deadlock as he failed to reconcile the squabbling governors Tuesday night.
Unable to bring peace to the fold of the bickering governors, the second move by the former president to make peace between the governors and President Goodluck Jonathan and his family, it was learnt, was also postponed indefinitely.
Upon reconciling the governors, President Obasanjo was expected to lead a delegation of the governors to meet with President Jonathan where issues that have bedevilled the party were to be thrashed out. That meeting has now been put on hold. Obasanjo at the end of the Tuesday night meeting, however, promised to continue the peace effort, telling the governors that “the door is neither closed nor opened.”
Meanwhile, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, yesterday, offered reasons why majority of governors in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, backed Governor Chibuike Amaechi against Jonah Jang in the NGF chairmanship election. He said the governors do not trust Jang to robustly defend their interests before the president.
Amaechi can’t step down — Supporters
Central to the abortion of the peace process was the refusal of both Governors Chibuike Amaechi and Jonah Jang to step down from chairmanship of rival factions of the NGF.
Under a proposal that had been canvassed, Amaechi would have called a meeting of the NGF in which all the governors would have attended and at which he would have tendered a public resignation supposedly for peace to return to the forum.
However, Amaechi and his supporters resisted the move as they claimed that since he won the election, he should not be the one to step down. Jang who lost the NGF chairmanship election by 16 votes to the 19 votes garnered by Amaechi, was equally unmoving.
Supporters of Amaechi, it was learnt, were said to have argued that the result of the election should be respected and that the loser of the election should step down.
One governor who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, however, insisted that those of them driving the peace process would not give up until peace returns to the fold of the governors and the party.
Another governor who also spoke in confidence decried assertions in the media that Amaechi was asked to step down as he affirmed that there was no unanimity on the issue of the duo of Amaechi and Jang stepping down. He accused colleagues who purveyed the information as having ulterior motives.
“It is not true that Amaechi, who won the election fair and square was asked to relinquish his victory. Nothing like that was agreed throughout the meeting with the former President,” the governor said.
“There was no such agreement and anyone who peddles such a rumour must be day-dreaming and propelled by some fantasies.”
Another governor noted that if anyone was to be asked to stand down, it was Governor Jang, “who has been parading himself as the NGF leader because of the tacit support of the Presidency.”
“You cannot under any circumstance ask Amaechi, who was validly elected by the body of governors to stand down. If those who desire peace are serious, they know the person to ask to step down for peace to reign but certainly not Amaechi,” a third governor stated.
No official position was given by the Presidency and former President Obasanjo after the second meeting, which was described by those in attendance as stormy but frank.
But there were indications yesterday that although the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Chief Godswill Akpabio, had boasted that the opposition was afraid following the move being made to reconcile its governors, the Presidency was still unhappy with five governors of the party, who have been meeting past leaders in the country under the guise of rescuing the party from drifting further.
It was learnt that the visits being undertaken by the quintet to highlight the anomalies that may affect the party’s fortunes in the next election, had not gone down well with the Presidency, which sees them as engaging in roles not assigned to them.
It was gathered that an elaborate move was being contemplated to checkmate the five governors and reduce their influence so that the party could make inroads in their states ahead of the next election.
Why we don’t trust Jang, by Nyako
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Jonathan, yesterday evening, Governor Nyako said somebody who contested and won election should not step down for somebody who came second.
According to the governor, though the issue of Amaechi and Jang stepping down came up in the meeting between the governors of the People’s Democratic Party and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, no agreement was reached.
He said before the governors went for the election of chairman of the forum; three criteria were set out as qualities of who should emerge the chairman of the forum.
He stated: “In democracy, when you have an issue you discuss. The election in the Governors’ Forum has become an issue. It should not be an issue. When you say 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, even someone who is in elementary school knows which is higher. If one group got 19 votes (and) the other got 16, in democracy even in the eyes of the people in elementary school, they know that 19 is higher than 16. It should not be turned into controversy.
“But beyond the figure, we had already agreed in the governors’ forum, we had already established certain criteria for leadership within us.
“He must be somebody we trust. I would like to have a leader of the forum who when he is with the President in the small room talking about Adamawa State, can put off avoidable crisis for Adamawa State. It should not be someone who will aggravate issues in the eyes of Mr President. That element of trust must be there. If I vote for somebody it must be somebody I could trust.
“We also said it should be somebody who has some degree of chemistry with the President, that the President will be comfortable with. Now if we find that the President is not comfortable with him, can we do a little bit of psychological work to get the two of them having the same chemistry?
“The other one we feel is that he should add some value to Mr. President. If you have a forum leader who is seen to be part of the Presidency, that has become a yes-man of Mr. President, then the governors will say he is not representing our interests. If he is not representing the interest of the governors, he is not representing the interests of the ordinary Nigerians.”
On whether Jang and Amaechi should step down to allow for a neutral person to be elected, Nyako retorted that it would be inconceivable to urge Amaechi to step down, given that he won the election. He said that the pressure should rather be on Jang as the runner-up to step down.