Yesterday, two counsels were at loggerheads over who should represent Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State before the courts over the case brought by Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State seeking to compel the court to mandate Jang to desist from parading himself as the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF.
This is coming on the heels of the declaration by Jang that he was duly elected chairman of the Forum on the 24th of May, 2013 even though records available (including a video shot on mobile that’s gone viral)show that he had only 16 votes to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s (his only contender) 19. He based his assertion mainly on an agreement reached by PDP governors to settle for him as consensus candidate against the candidacy of two other PDP governors of Northern Nigerian extraction.
Signatures were allegedly collected which ordinarily should have given Jang the majority he needed, however the plan to present this at the Governors’ meeting and prevent an election failed. Governor Sule Lamido (strongly suspected to be nursing a presidential ambition with Amaechi as running mate) will later reveal that 9 of the PDP governors reneged on the plan to vote Jang, and voted for Amaechi.
It is the failure of the Jang faction to come to terms with the reality that their plans failed right in front of their eyes, and the many egos that have become bruised (including that of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) that has led them to seek to destroy whatever good (if there be any) that the Governors Forum may have represented. As it stands, the Northern Governors Forum which before now was tethering on the brinks may have been irreparably shattered following the recent decision of two governors to leave its fold.
Jonah Jang has with unprecedented speed (the likes the people of Plateau State would appreciate he brought home to tackle the myriad of problems, especially that of insecurity currently plaguing the state) commissioned a new secretariat, held several NGF meetings (with only the minority he holds attending the meetings), then met with the Preseident who seems to be partisan in this issue especially as Jang’s opponent is his political antagonist (as Amaechi is suspected to be nursing a Vice-Presidential ambition that may run counter to Jonathan’s second term ambition).
This is the basis for the case instituted by Raji Fashola, that once again exposed Jang’s indecisiveness and apparent lack of administration and man-mangaement, occassioned by the presence in court of two counsels at loggerheads with each other over who should represent him. You can’t help but wonder how such a person came to become the governor of a volatile (once the haven of peace and splendour) state like Plateau, but again this is Nigeria where anything can happen!
Amaechi on his part has remained calm, cool and collected while everything around him seems to be responding haphazardly to the situation. He has been suspended by his party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP (which he has dragged to court to compel a reversal) for going against party orders which they claim is related to the suspension of the Chairman and counsellors of Obio-Akpor Local Government (an act of the Rivers State House Of Assembly which shouldn’t be in the purview of the PDP in the first place) even though many suspect that it is related to Amaechi’s refusal to step down for a PDP ‘annointed’ candidate for the Chairmanship of the Nigerian Governors Forum, made even more glaring by the fact that his suspension was announced barely 72 hours after he emerged victor in the NGF elections.
Jang’s recent statements to the effect that his NGF will work with the president and his government and not serve as opposition speaks volume of the intention of his backers to have him as chairman of that organization as well aa how the president views Amaechi’s chairmanship of the group when he held absolute sway.
Amaechi, over the years as chairman of the NGF proved that the group can exist without being a mere rubber-stamp to federal government policy, while advocating for more resource allocation to the states than what is currently available to the states, as they generate most of the revenue that accrue to the Federal Government.
Amaechi is no saint, like every other politician elsewhere (and particularly in Nigeria), political capital and interests remain paramount on his agenda, whether in so doing the lives of the people become positively impacted by it or not is another matter, and that is all he’s been pursuing as he’s duly right to so do.
Incidentally, Amaechi was a staunch ally and supporter of Goodluck Jonathan in the heady days in 2009 when his right to assume the presidency was nearly been usurped following the incapacitation of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, while today’s praise singer in Governor Godswill Akpabio of the PDP Governor’s Forum (set up to whittle Amaechi’s powers in the Governor’s Forum) and Jonathan’s kinsman and former Bayelsa State governor Timipre Sylva opposed his ascension to that lofty position.
It is true that there are no permanent friends in politics, just permanent interests, but in all this no one has accused Amaechi of neglecting his duties or not delivering the Dividends of Democracy (which I’m sure they’ll find if they scrutinize his tenure), but rather on issues relating to party loyalty, enough to even be considering to bring impeachment proceedings against him, as if he is constitutionally empowered to serve the party and not the people.
A meeting of the NGF has been slated for 8pm by Amaechi, this is about the same time another scheduled by the President as part of his mid-term programs, is expected to hold. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in terms of attendance!