The suspension of Rivers State governor Rotimi Amaechi by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday is just one step against alleged ‘rebellious governors’. A plot to remove Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu as the chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum would follow if he failed to endorse Plateau State governor Jonah Jang’s chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), a presidency source said.
Newsfact Online had exclusively reported yesterday about the plot of the presidency and the PDP to sanction Amaechi if he failed to recognise the chairmanship of Jang but insisted on being the chairman. This time round, the source said, the next target would be the Niger State governor who is regarded as “the Amaechi of the North”.
Other alleged rebellious governors marked for similar treatment include governors Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).
According to the source, both the presidency and the PDP leadership have not been comfortable with the perceived anti-party activities of Aliyu of recent and the ongoing crisis within the NGF would largely determine his leadership of the Northern States Governors’ Forum and, to some extent, his continued membership of the party.
The source said, “Babangida [Aliyu] was party to the endorsement of Jang as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum; he was the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum that adopted him as the consensus candidate; if he decided to go with Amaechi, that means he is unfit to be a leader; and if he decided to be working against the party’s interest, the constitution of the party is not silent on the consequence.”
Speaking further, he explained that although both the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Northern States Governors’ Forum are voluntary associations, whatever happens there has to do with the PDP and the presidency. “Both associations are voluntary but, be that as it may, we are interested in them because whatever they say against the government policies is directly against the PDP and the presidency. Amaechi and Babangida have been saying a lot of things against the party that gave them the mandate and the federal government; this is wrong. Nothing of such was recorded in the Second Republic, and the earlier they are called to order the better.”
According to the source, once Governor Aliyu comes out to pitch his tent with the Amaechi camp, “those whom he presides over have the right to decide whether he should continue to be their leader or otherwise”.
When the time comes, those that have been penciled in to do the hatchet job are the like of Bauchi State governor Isa Yuguda, Katsina State governor Ibrahim Shema and Benue State governor Gabriel Suswam who all played prominent roles in the endorsement of Jang before the election of Amaechi, he stated.
When asked why the date on the report of the consensus endorsement by 19 governors was doctored and how those that were not at the meeting reportedly voted, our source explained that those that were not at the meeting were called to express their views before the decision was made.
When contacted, the spokesman of Governor Aliyu, Danladi Ndayebo, said: “We are not aware of any move against the Chief Servant. I can authoritatively tell you that Governor Aliyu remains a loyal PDP member.”
Another source close to Aliyu also said, “When the time comes, the Chief Servant would speak but for now, I am sorry, he would not say anything. Whatever he says now could make or mar efforts he and others are making to reconcile the two warring parties in the interest of peace and unity of the country.”
But an insider at the Forum where Jang was endorsed said the meeting was called purposely to decide whether Amaechi should continue or not. But along the line, “people like Shema and Yuguda began to say why should we restrict ourselves to whether Amaechi should continue or not when some of us are interested in the chairmanship. And during this discussion, Shema said he was stepping down and Yuguda said he too was no longer interested. It was then a motion to adopt Jang came in and they all endorsed him, but what happened at the Rivers State Lodge was another thing”.
The Jang camp, meanwhile, is considering a legal action to challenge the propriety of Amaechi seeking a second term. It claimed that the NGF constitution does not give room for the re-election of the chairman.
PDP suspends Amaechi, sets up Gadzama panel
Following the decision of the National Working Committee of the PDP to suspend Governor Amaechi from the party yesterday, Chief Joe Gadzama (SAN) is to head an 11-man panel to investigate the petition against Amaechi.
According to PDP’s national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, Amaechi’s suspension was reached after an emergency meeting of the NWC yesterday.
The party said it considered the petition submitted by the PDP Rivers State Executive Committee against Amaechi for violating Articles 58 1 (b), (c ), (h) and (m) of the PDP constitution.
“The National Working Committee after preliminary hearing, in exercise of the powers conferred by Articles 57 (3), 59 (3), 59 (5) and 29 (2.b) hereby suspends the Executive Governor of River State, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, as a member of the PDP and refers the matter to the appropriate disciplinary committee of the Party.
“This is in furtherance of the determination of the leadership of the Party to enforce discipline at all levels within the Party,” Metuh’s statement read.
Article 58 (1) reads: “ Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the party shall have power to discipline any member who (b) says or does anything likely to bring the party into disrepute, hatred or contempt; (c ) disobeys or neglects to carry out lawful directives of the party or any organ or officer of the party; (h) engages in any conduct likely to cause disaffection among members of the party or is likely to disrupt the peaceful, lawful and efficient conduct of the business of the party; (m) fails, refuses or neglects to treat a petition, complaints or appeal timeously.”
The party had given Amaechi an ultimatum to reverse the dissolution of Obiakpor local government council in Rivers State, following the indictment of the council’s past leaders in alleged misappropriation of funds belonging to the council, but Amaechi refused to reverse the dissolution; it is believed that Obiakpor council’s leadership was sacrificed for being loyal to Nyesome Wike, said to be the hatchet man of the presidency in the political fight with Amaechi.
Aside Gadzama, other members of the committee include Victor Kwon, Hon. Wakil Mohammed, Tanimu Adamson, and Mrs Bola Doherty. There was no time frame for the completion of the exercise.
PDP faces collapse, says Atiku
Apparently referring to Amaechi’s travails, former vice president Atiku Abubakar has decried the continuous slide of the PDP and called on concerned founding fathers to save the party from imminent but avoidable implosion.
In a statement by his media office made available to Newsfact Online, Atiku said he was particularly disturbed by the worsening polarization and internal divisions, which he stated is capable of weakening its ranks occasioned by worsening crisis between governors elected on the party’s platform and President Goodluck Jonathan.
The former vice president, in the statement signed on his behalf by his media aide, Garba Shehu, explained that as one of the founding fathers of the party, he had a duty to call on others to rise up to the occasion and caution the forces that are bent on tearing the party apart, to avoid providing the necessary ammunition for self-destruction.
Specifically, he lamented the inability of both the National Executive (NEC) and the Board of Trustees to rise to the occasion of arresting this ugly development.
According to him, the bitter internal divisions within the PDP has led to crisis in the party’s leadership in some states, division in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the suspension of a sitting governor (Amaechi) over disagreements on principle that could have been avoided if the founders of the party had added their voices of caution and moderation.
“With the challenges of providing good governance and the bid for re-election in 2015, the PDP cannot afford the current acrimony as it is undermining democratic structures at all levels,” Abubakar said in the statement.
He warned that if the crisis was left to get out of hand or not properly managed, the PDP might find itself weaker and politically vulnerable.
Amaechi heads for court over suspension, assembles 17 SANs
But Amaechi is heading for a federal high court in Abuja to challenge the propriety of his suspension.
He is said to be assembling a team of lawyers comprising 17 senior advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to save his political future and the current fight he is facing with the green-white-red umbrella.
One of Amaechi’s senior lawyers told Newsfact Online on the condition of anonymity that they would stop President Jonathan’s gimmicks in which he is using the party platform to destroy Amaechi.
“We can see the handwriting of the presidency in this suspension. It is very obvious that the NWC of the PDP is acting a script, which we must destroy. We will tear that script and burn it to ashes. We have started comparing processes and, before the end of today (Tuesday, May 28, 2013) we will file the processes in court,” he added.
The senior advocate stated further that “Jonathan is incapable of ruling the country and he should stop destroying those who have the capability and intellectual ability to build Nigeria. If he thinks he can destroy Amaechi, then, we will destroy him in court first,” he said.
I am afraid over my life, safety – Amaechi
Amaechi has raised the alarm over his life and safety following the desperation of his political adversaries at the national level.
Immediately after he was informed about his suspension from the PDP, the Rivers State governor told reporters yesterday at Government House, Port Harcourt, during an interactive session with the youths of the state, “The way these people at the federal level are desperate, they may come after my life; so when you pray, remember to pray for me to remain alive.”
The governor, who faulted the decision of the PDP National Working Committee to suspend him, said the decision came without the party giving him a fair hearing, adding that his alleged offence actually had nothing to do with him as governor of the state.
Amaechi said it was worthy of note that the NWC of the party met as early as 7am at an emergency meeting, where it decided to suspend him for not rescinding an act of the State House of Assembly, which decided to suspend the elected officials of Obio/Akpor local government council of the state so as to give room for an investigation of an alleged financial misappropriation.
He said, “Who has power to suspend Obio/Akpor council? Now you see political witch-hunting? It is so ridiculous. My party must rise above political witch-hunting; governor did not suspend Obio/Akpor council, I hope you know.
“My power is to dissolve and remit it to the House of Assembly, but I have not done that yet. What the Assembly has said is, ‘we are investigating corruption’; then the party says we should not investigate corruption, is that fair?”
Amaechi’s suspension is political witch-hunt – Rivers govt
Meanwhile, the Rivers State government has said the suspension of Amaechi from the PDP is a political witch-hunt of the governor and the people of the state.
Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Otelemaba Dan-Amachree said the lawmakers would continue to stand by the governor despite his suspension by the ruling PDP.
The state commissioner for information and communications, Mrs Ibim Seminatari, yesterday described the development as worrisome, going by the fact that the reason that the PDP cited the suspension of the chairman, vice chairman and councilors of Obio/Akpor local government council for its action.
Seminatari said: “We are concerned as we believe this is political witch-hunt. It is worrisome. The reason given is the suspension of the Obio/Akpor council. This is purely a legislative matter and done in accordance to the laws of local government councils in Rivers State.”
In a telephone chat with Newsfact Online, Amachree, who spoke through his press secretary, Udede Jim Opiki, said: “Wherever the governor stands is where we stand. Whatever he has said over the development is our stand.”
NGF: Jang faction to appoint sole administrator to head secretariat
Indications have emerged that the faction of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum led by Plateau State governor Jonah Jang is set to appoint a sole administrator to head its secretariat.
Newsfact Online gathered that the faction may have tapped the owner of Red Carpet Protocol, Earl Osaro Onaiwu, for the position.
Following the outcome of last Friday’s election, the Jang led faction had said they would set up their own secretariat different from the current NGF secretariat in Asokoro.
However, when Newsfact Online contacted the director-general of the NGF, Dr Asishana Okauru, he said he did not know of any such appointment.