Mr. Amaechi won re-election as governors’ forum chairman.
More details have emerged as to why the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio; his Ondo State counterpart, Olusegun Mimiko, and some others claim the Nigeria Governors Forum election was rigged in favour of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers.
Shortly after the announcement of the result of the elections, which showed that Amaechi scored 19 votes, against 16 votes scored by his opponent and Governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang; Mr. Akpabio addressed reporters rejecting the result, with the allegation that the election was rigged.
He claimed the ballot papers were not serialized and that Mr. Amaechi did not step down prior to the election.
In documents circulated by the Akwa Ibom governor, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that prior to the election, Mr. Akpabio and 18 other governors in attendance at a meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party governors had taken a resolution proclaiming their support for Mr. Jang as the new Chairman of the Forum. Curiously, the document was also signed by at least two opposition governors, Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe (All Nigeria Peoples Party); and Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State (Labour Party). Mr. Akpabio claimed it was inconceivable that after voting, the outcome would be in favour of Amaechi.
In the resolution of the 19 governors that Mr. Akpabio also presented before the NGF meeting, they stated that: “We the undersigned Governors of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum having taken cognizance of the state of the nation and the perception of the Nigerian people, do herby resolve as follows:
1. That we thank the out-going Chairman, His Excellency, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State for his leadership and achievement.
2. That we strongly agree for a change of leadership of the Forum from May 2013 to May 2015.
3. We hereby, therefore elect His Excellency Jonah Jang of Plateau State as the new Chairman of the Forum.”
The signatories included Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe); Serike Dickson (Bayelsa); Garba Umar (Taraba); Gabriel Suawan (Benue); Peter Obi (Anambra); Idris Wada (Kogi); Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo); Jonah Jang (Plateau); Mukhtar Yero (Kaduna); Sullivan Chime (Enugu); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Isa Yuguda (Bauchi); Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); T. A. Orji (Abia); Ibrahim Shema (Katsina); Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe); Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Abdul Ahmed (Kwara).
Mr. Amaechi insisted that despite the majority signatories (19 out of Nigeria’s 36 governors), the elections should still proceed; apparently knowing that not all the 19 would vote for Mr. Jang.
In his post-election speech, Mr. Amaechi thanked the governors for upholding democracy, reassuring the people of the commitment of the Forum under his leadership to support President Goodluck Jonathan “realize the development dream of all Nigerians by reducing tension, uncertainty and insecurity in our beloved country.”
“Today our democracy was tested and proven,” Amaechi said. “Democracy is about participation. The aim of democratic governance is for everyone to partake in winning. Today the governors have spoken with one voice reaffirming our faith in democratic governance as the hope of Nigeria’s future. I must thank my colleagues for their tenacity and determination to ensure the unity of the forum but more importantly of our nation.
“We remain committed to supporting our leader, the president and commander in chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to realize the development dream of all Nigerians by reducing tension, uncertainty and insecurity in our beloved country. We want to pledge our steadfastness and resolve working alongside Mr. President to better the lives of our people as we render transparent and accountable stewardship.
“Finally our thanks go to all those who have patiently endured these times especially our constituents and members of the fourth estate of the realm who have followed these elections with keen interest. We promise that we will not betray the confidence you have reposed in us.”