Vanguard (Lagos)

25 May 2013

Nigeria: How Amaechi Was Re-Elected

After many weeks of intrigues and horsetrading, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State was re-elected as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum, NGF, beating his lone rival, Jonah Jang of Plateau State.

It was even an anticlimax that Jang ended up as Amaechi's sole challenger, having not been in the frame throughout the preparations for the tensed vote.

But Saturday Vanguard learnt that the failure of the series of meeting held to resolve the disagreement over who should challenge Amaechi from pro-Jonathan camp, paved the way for Amaechi's victory.

The People's Democratic Party had settled for Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State to run against Amaechi and made it clear to its campaign managers that the governor was its preferred candidate.

However, the Katsina state Governor, Ibrahim Shema, who insisted he had earlier been tipped by the Presidency for the same contest, refused to step down for Yuguda.

Reliable sources confirmed to Saturday Vanguard that spirited efforts made to persuade Shema to see reasons and step down for Yuguda, failed even after the Northern Governors Forum and the PDP Governors Forum had met and pleaded with him.

Angered by the insistence of Shema to run, the NGF meeting, which met earlier at the Niger State Governor's Lodge in Asokoro, excused him and his Bauchi counterpart from the meeting and opted to push Jang to run.

It was gathered that upon their return to the meeting of the NGF, both Shema and Yuguda were asked to stand down and vote for Jang as the candidate of the north.

At the enlarged meeting of the PDPGF held at Akwa Ibom Governor's Lodge also in Asokoro, Jang was subsequently presented as the 'anointed' candidate of the party to confront Amaechi.

A source said that as soon as Yuguda was forced to leave the contest, it was all clear to them that Amaechi would beat Jang,who was not in the picture at all.

"Honestly, it was a big disappointment to see the way the whole game went because Jang was not in the frame and those who decided at the last minute to draft him into the contest should be made to explain what they wanted to achieve.

"What has happened now is a big slap to our own camp and it is a shame that things went that way because some people believe that they understand politics more than others," the source said.

Announcing the results of the ballot, the Director-General, Nigeria Governors' Forum, Asishana Bayo Okauru disclosed that Governor Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara was unanimously voted in as the Vice Chairman, following the withdrawal of Governor Olusegun Mimiko from the race.

All the 36 governors except that of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam were present and the election was through secret ballot.

An elated Amaechi while accepting the outcome of the election, said there was no victor and no vanquished but thanked his colleagues for the confidence reposed in him.

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