Just when it was thought that Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, had won his re-election as chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), the story changed.
In its inimitable fashion, a faction of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party sympathetic to President Goodluck Jonathan, reached for its bag of tricks and purloined a document meant to reverse Amaechi’s victory.
According to the truly magical paper shared among journalists by Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State was the “real winner,” while Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo was the “deputy.”
The statement, released on a letter head that did not even call the governors’ forum by its proper name, claimed that Jang and Mimiko were endorsed by 16 PDP governors; one Labour Party governor; one All Progressive Grand Alliance governor; and one All Nigeria Peoples Party governor, and dismissed Amaechi’s election as a sham and a fraud.
Governor Akpabio said they had pulled away and only recognised Jang as the duly elected and recognised chairman of the NGF. Akpabio was conveniently silent about the mutilations in the dates of the second paragraph of the letter he issued and the fact that that letter was signed in April after one of the NGF meetings ended in a deadlock.
He also omitted to mention that Jang, who in whom President Jonathan’s faction is now well pleased, was not even in the reckoning in April and had, in fact, rejected his nomination by the Northern Governors’ Forum yesterday on grounds of “old age!”
So, are there two or more factions of the NGF now? What does this portend then for the polity? What does this mean for 2015? Is the PDP already preparing a result, just waiting to alter it if the result does not favour its candidate?
The PDP has no one but itself to blame for the crisis in the NGF; it mismanaged the process leading to yesterday’s election.
The re-election of Governor Amaechi as the chairman of the NGF came to many as a surprise as it was believed that the governor whom the presidency drew battle lines with was on his way out of the seat.
It was common logic to think that whomever the presidency backed for the elections would certainly win the race. But if what transpired yesterday at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge was anything to reckon with, it could well mean that the proverbial 60-year reign of the PDP foretold by Vincent Ogbulafor is ending even before it has started.
Things have not been the same since the defiance of the House of Representatives’ members to kick against the party’s zoning formula and elect Aminu Waziri Tambuwwal and Emeka Ihedioha as its speaker and deputy speaker respectively. The ruling PDP is gradually losing grip on its members and the opposition is obviously waxing stronger.
And now the same scenario has played up at the Governors’ Forum with the PDP, which has 24 of the 36 state governors linking the wounds. The thinking is that clearly the ruling party is no longer in charge.
If the presidency and in effect the PDP had indicated interest as it did in the candidacy of Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State to wrestle the incumbent Amaechi out of the NGF seat, it would have expected that as it was the case in the past when the party’s decision remained supreme, that an obviously would-be frustrated Amaechi would be forced to step down after reading the writing on the wall - since it would be needless to contest due to the bloc votes of the 24 PDP governors that would have indicated where their votes would swing to. The combined opposing votes of at most 12 governors would still not match the 24 that is intact for the chosen PDP’s candidate.
In yesterday’s election the reverse was the case. Governor Amaechi must have been full of confidence going into the election after gauging the mood of his colleagues and checking the likely support. Unlike the scenario painted above, the 11 opposition governors, now branded as “APC Governors” must have queued behind Amaechi, leaving him to canvass the extra 8 governors (totalling 19, with which he won the election) from the governors of PDP extraction.
What this means is that ahead 2015, the PDP cannot say its house is accommodating genuine and faithful party members. And may as well play into the hands of the opposition! Is a dirty 2015 here?