9 March 2013

Nigeria: PDP Governors Meet Monday as Search for Consensus Flounder

Lagos — Governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party will on Monday meet to discuss crucial issues which include the election of a new chairman of the bitterly-divided Nigerian Governors' Forum.

The meeting comes as the plot by the ruling party's governors to present a consensus candidate that would replace Governor Chibuike Amaechi as the chairman of the forum continue to flounder.

Attempts to break the ranks of opposition governors whose support has bolstered Amaechi's position as chairman of the forum have failed. Part of the plot, believed to have been conceived by governors loyal to President Goodluck Jonathan, is to draft a consensus candidate from amongst PDP governors in the North to run against the Rivers State governor.

PDP is insisting that as the party with the highest number of governors in the forum, it should necessarily reserve the right to present the next governor as chairman of the forum.

A governor who spoke to THISDAY said there is yet no unanimity among the northern governors with regards to a consensus candidate because all moves towards that have proved abortive. He added that it would not be in the interest of the PDP governors to present more than one candidate for the office of the Nigerian Governors' Forum.

The northern governors at a meeting shortly after signs of cracks in the NGF became public knowledge were said to have informed the Katsina State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, that they would not support him as a replacement for Amaechi. According to the source, "if there is no consensus in the choice of a governor from PDP, then the tendency could be to allow for an election through voting. But the presidency is not happy over it and therefore continue to push for a consensus.

"This idea of a consensus governor as chairman of the forum is the idea of the presidency. In the absence of that, we'll throw the whole idea to election which is by secret ballot. But the fear is that any secret ballot will give a simple majority to Governor Amaechi which won't be good news in Abuja," the source said.

The special adviser to the chairman of PDP on Governors and Governance, Osaro Onaiwu, in a statement said that the governors of PDP will meet on Monday, but did not disclose the agenda of the meeting.

However, barely one week after Governor Amaechi survived alleged moves to remove him as chairman of the Governors' Forum many people and associations in the state have continued to show support for the governor.

"We are here to express and declare our support and appreciation to you on how you have successfully and wonderfully managed the affairs of the state," said Asita on behalf of other members of the caucus.

Next on solidarity visit was the Ogbakor-Ikwerre Oganisation worldwide, the supreme socio-cultural body of the Ikwerre ethnic group.

Prof Augustine Onyeozu, the President-General of Ogbakor Ikwerre who spoke for the group described the performance of Amaechi in office as superlative and excellent. The group however urged the governor to disregard negative comments and urged him to remain focused and courageous. They pledged their total support and loyalty to him at all times.

However, the biggest endorsement and support for Amaechi came on Thursday, when the 32 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly passed a vote of confidence on the governor.

The motion presented by House Leader, Chidi Lloyd, read: "Rivers people condemn in strong terms the recent unwarranted but premeditated attacks on the person and office of the Governor of Rivers State."

Spokesman of Amaechi, Mr. David Iyofor, described the three events of this past week as gratifying. He said, "It is humbling for Governor Amaechi that all these persons, groups and lawmakers, both state and federal, representing the vast majority of Rivers people would show this kind of solidarity and support for him, support for his leadership style, his achievements, his actions, his policies, his programmes, his statements and stance on both state and national issues."

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