The Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum got off to a poor start Monday with the embattled Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Rotimi Amaechi, and five other governors shunning the maiden meeting of the group in Abuja.
Governors Amaechi, Sullivan Chime (Enugu), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Saidu Dakingari (Kebbi), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Musa Kwakwanso (Kano) stayed away from the meeting of a group birthed in controversy. The governors were also not represented at the meeting.
Seven governors and the acting governor of Taraba State attended the meeting. Eight others were represented by their deputies, in what appears a subtle message that they do not consider the meeting important enough to warrant their personal attendance.
No reason was given for the absence of the six governors, who were also not represented.
However, some governors had insisted after the formation of the group that they would not be part of any arrangement to factionalised the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, an umbrella, non-partisan group of Nigeria’s 36 states formed in 1999.
The PDP Governors’ Forum was formed at the presidential villa on February 24 as a last gasp effort by President Goodluck Jonathan and party chairman Bamanga Tukur to dilute the perceived growing political influence of Mr. Amaechi, who was elected chairman of the NGF in June 2011 for an initial two-year term.
However, at the end of the meeting, chairman of the group, Godswill Akpabio, told journalists his group would step up service delivery with a view to ensuring development across the country.
The chairman of the forum, Gov. Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, gave the assurance while briefing newsmen after the forum’s meeting which ended in the early hours of Tuesday in Abuja.
“We want to reassure Nigerians who have reposed their confidence in us from 1999 to run the affairs of this nation that we are equal to the task and that we will not let them down,” he said.
He debunked speculations that some PDP governors planned to join the yet-to-be-registered All Progressives Congress (APC), a group formed by opposition parties.
He claimed the speculation was false, stressing that PDP governors and PDP states were intact.
Mr. Akpabio said that instead of any PDP governor defecting to opposition party, PDP governors were determined to work together for the party to win more states in 2015 through democratic process.
He said this would be achieved through the party`s good policies and delivery of democracy dividends in PDP-controlled states.
He expressed the confidence that non-PDP states would see the need to vote for PDP government in 2015 because of the development strides of the present PDP governors.
Mr. Akpabio also said that the forum had set up a five-man security committee to evaluate and assess the country`s security situation.
He added that the committee, to be called the PDP Governors’ Forum Security Advisory Committee, is to be headed by Gov. Muritala Nyako of Adamawa.
According to him, the committee will also proffer solutions and suggest ways in which the forum can collaborate with the Federal Government and the public to curb crime in the society.
Mr. Akpabio further said that the forum resolved to propose a review of the constitution of the main Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to ensure stability.
He however said that the PDPGF would work in harmony with the NGF, stressing that the PDPGF was not created to destroy the NGF.
He added that the two bodies would collaborate to ensure that Nigerian governors spoke in one voice for the benefit of all Nigerians and to deepen the country`s democracy.
Mr. Akpabio congratulated Chief Tony Anenih, for emerging PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman, adding that with his experience and advice, the party would move forward.
Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta had earlier presented the interim report of the five-man PDP South-West reconciliation committee on the crises in the zone to the forum.
Gov. Ibrahim Shema of Kastina heads the committee, which was constituted ahead of the forum’s first meeting,, with governors of Benue, Ebonyi and Adamawa as members.
The committee was inaugurated to reconcile aggrieved party members in the South-West and proffer solutions to end all crises in PDP-governed states and the country generally.
Mr. Anenih told the governors that unity and peace were critical to moving the party and the country forward.
He stressed the need for unity and reconciliation in the party, and urged PDP governors and all PDP members to work harder to achieve success as the challenges before the party were enormous.
Mr. Anenih, who expressed optimism that the formation of the PDPGF would give the governors a better platform to discuss issues that affect them, and assured the governors of the BoT’s support.
The BoT secretary, Walid Jibril, former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani and ex-Governor Jim Nwobodo, and other PDP chieftains attended the meeting.