NGF Crisis: Governors Go Spiritual

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi

The governors look to God to settle their political scores.

Amaechi to Mimiko: “I am willing to go with him to his Church, Redeemed Church, we kneel on the altar and say it before God.”

Mimiko: “Amaechi should not hide under religion to cover up his anti-democratic dispositions.”

Yuguda to Babangida Aliyu: “I am not into politics to betray and deceive people because I am not ready to go to hell.”

Sometime in June, at the peak of the controversy trailing the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, election; its chairman, Chibuike Amaechi, paid a scheduled visit to the Forum’s secretariat in the Asokoro District of Abuja. It was his first visit since the May 24 election, which tore the association of the 36 state governors in the country, into two.

In that election, Mr. Amaechi, governor of the oil-rich Rivers State, had beaten his lone challenger and Plateau State counterpart, Jonah Jang, by 19 votes to 16; but the latter, prompted by those who voted for him, and backed by the presidency and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, rejected the result and proceeded to float a parallel NGF.

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Mr. Amaechi, accompanied by Governor Kayode Fayemi, with whom he recently became more acquainted, made the visit shortly after the video of the contentious election leaked, which punctured the claims of some of the participants in the election that it was manipulated.

At the end of the visit, during which he inspected the secretariat, the governor was accosted by journalists, who posed series of
questions arising from the election. Specifically, the governor was asked if he would relinquish his mandate as demanded by the Jang
faction.

In his response, Mr. Amaechi did not only vow to keep the mandate given to him by his colleagues, but asked the rival group to return to the fold, insisting that there could not be two secretariats of the NGF.

“The election has come and gone. It was a test for democracy and democracy won at the end of the day,” he said, adding, “All we can do as democrats that were elected by the people is to uphold democracy and stand by democracy. I honestly do not know why the disagreement. I don’t know why.”

“I believe that my brothers and colleagues will see reason why we should stop distracting the country and get the country united, to
focus on development because at the end of the day, it is about legacy, it is about what we will leave behind for the people,” he added.

Asked about the implications of the contentious election, Mr. Amaechi went religious, wondering why Mr. Jang and the Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, both of them Christians, could lie about their participation in the election when the video recording of the event clearly revealed their roles. For him, such attitude could negatively affect the 2015 general elections.

“Again, tell my brother, Mimiko, that he voted. If he still says he did not vote, I am willing to go with him to his Church, Redeemed
Church, we kneel on the altar and say it before God,” he said.

“I want to urge Jang, because he said he is Christian, to know that God watches over everybody and whatever you say, say it according to God because beyond NGF, you and I know that there is heaven and you can’t go to heaven if you don’t tell the truth and stand by the truth.

“I am not saying he is not saying the truth, I am not saying he is not standing by the truth, I am just saying that nobody can go to heaven when he is not saying the truth.

“There is no special benefit that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum chairman is getting. I don’t see why there is this disagreement. When
I read them saying I am desperate, desperate for what? I am only proving a point that Nigerians are allowed to run for any post they
want to run.

“And when they do and they are elected, they should stick to their mandates. That is the only point.

“My brothers, who are complaining not about the election, should come back and let’s work together. They must be willing, just as we are willing, to accept.

“It is not really a battle. It is about God. I usually tell people, don’t win the battle and lose the war.

“I think all of us should come together and work for the interest of the nation and for the interest of the poor masses.

“We should not allow our personal interest to override that of the nation.

“It is important we consider the interest of the nation.”

Mr. Amaechi’s spiritual approach to the NGF crisis did not go unquestioned by Mr. Mimiko, a senior member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, which is about the largest Pentecostal church in the country, who responded promptly from his Akure base.

The Ondo governor, a member of the Labour Party, LP, who emerged vice chairman of the Jang faction, challenged his Rivers State counterpart not only to substantiate his claim that he (Mimiko) voted at the disputed election by producing video evidence, and warned him not to hide under religion to make his claim.

“Amaechi should not hide under religion to cover up his anti-democratic dispositions,” Mr. Mimiko fired back. “Nothing stops
Governor Amaechi from proving to the world that I voted by using the same video he has been using to tell the public that there was an election.”

Mr. Mimiko accused Mr. Amaechi of betraying the governors, and described his attitude as “the height of treachery for the governor to have installed secret video camera to record his colleagues without their consent simply because he is acting the script of another agenda inimical to the progress of the Forum.”

“It is not acceptable, it is undemocratic, it is the height of desperation, it won’t work because Nigerians can no longer afford to
be fooled,” the Ondo Governor thundered.

Up north, at about the same time Messrs Mimiko and Amaechi were engaged in verbal spiritual punches, their counterpart in Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda, was also dragging God into the NGF crisis.

Mr. Yuguda had been touted in the media as an aspirant to the NGF chairmanship seat, but stood down at the last minute on the day of the election, alongside Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, paving the way for Mr. Jang to enter the race.

In a media interview, Mr. Yuguda, who was apparently disturbed by the turn of events, especially the accusations and counter-accusations among his governor colleagues, said he did not join politics to betray and deceive people because he would not want to go to hell after his life on earth.

Stating that he was quitting the Northern States Governors Forum, NSGF, because of betrayals and distrust, the Bauchi helmsman
challenged the Forum Chairman and Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, to tell the world what transpired among the governors before the election was held.

He insisted that it was the turn of the North to produce the chairman of NGF; hence it was agreed that Mr. Jang, a northerner should be the consensus candidate.

Mr. Yuguda said, “My only request is for the Chief Servant of Niger State to address the nation on what was agreed by all of us at the
meeting of the northern governors after which we proceeded to present our position to the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum on May 24.

“If he (Aliyu) tells the world that we decided on presenting Governor Jang for adoption and not for election, then I will return to Northern States Governors Forum.

“But if that is not done, I will never be part of the forum for the remaining two years of my governorship. I cannot continue to be part
of an association that takes a decision they cannot come out to defend.

“Look, let me tell you, I am not into politics to betray and deceive people because I am not ready to go to hell.”

“If northern governors’ forum or Nigerian Governors Forum cannot tell the simple truth, then my membership is not worth it.”

But could the governors be trusted for their religious claims? Could it be that they are calling on the name of God just for the urgent
need to resolve the NGF saga?

The religious antecedents of some of them suggest they may be truly be religious.

Before he entered the race to seek a second term as NGF boss, Mr. Amaechi had sought spiritual empowerment in order to win the election.

In a Sunday special service organized by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Port Harcourt, Cammilus Etukudo, at the Government House in May this year, the governor solicited prayers for his success during the election.

“I told my friends that I will run for the NGF election. The chairmanship position of the NGF is the genesis of this crisis (travails). Something similar to what is happening now happened in the past, and we prayed ourselves into power.

“When I’m asked a question, people expect me to tell a lie or bend it a bit; and suddenly it comes out straight. And when it comes out
straight, people don’t like it.

“And my Catholic Priest told me that it is only me that will account for my soul before God, not even my wife will help me to account for my soul. So, if because of you, I bend it a bit, how will I answer to my God?”

“I like being straight-forward and honest, but some people say I am proud. They say I am arrogant: I am brash, but it is not arrogance.
Just because I look at you in the face and tell you the truth, people say it is arrogance,” he said.

Although a Catholic, Mr. Amaechi has been close to the Pentecostal world. He is believed to be close to the General Overseer of the Omega Fire Ministries, OFM, Auchi, Edo State, Johnson Suleman.

In 2007, Mr. Suleiman, known for his accurate prophecies, had prophesied that Mr. Amaechi would be governor without campaigning. The governor even made this claim himself.

While testifying at the Auchi headquarters of the church, on Sunday November 18, 2007, few weeks after he was sworn in following his victory at the Supreme Court, Mr. Amaechi told the congregation that during the struggle to reclaim his mandate from his cousin, Celestine Omehia, he came into contact with Mr. Suleman through Odede Stephen of Liberation Power Ministry, Port Harcourt.

According to him, Mr. Suleman did not leave him with any doubt that he would be governor. He described himself as a product of prophecies and admonished Christians not to be discouraged to pray ceaselessly and stay on God’s side in all circumstances so as to receive answers to their prayers.

Since his victory in 2007, Mr. Amaechi has remained attached to Mr. Suleiman, who also reportedly prophesied the victory of the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, at the Court of Appeal when he (Oshiomhole) was fighting to reclaim his mandate.

OFM, a church ministry that has branches in various countries, in its mission statement said it believes in judgment on the wicked, in the fire operation of the Spirit of God, purifies and equally destroys, among other things.

In January 2013, Mr. Suleman predicted, among over 40 prophecies, that Bamanga Tukur will be the last united PDP chairman, while there will be in-fighting in the party. He also predicted that the Emir of Kano should pray against attempt on his life, though will lose some men; that prayers should be offered for Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu as South Africa may lose a hero; that attempt will be made on President Barack Obama’s life; while President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe will need prayer to survive the year.

In February 2011, Mr. Amaechi, accompanied by Mr. Oshiomhole, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, and Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State attended the seventh anniversary church service of OFM at Auchi.

During the service, the Rivers State Governor said he believed in the mighty power of God because he became governor through His powers, stressing that those who believed in God would receive His grace in their lives.

While Mr. Oshiomhole called for prayers for peaceful conduct of the April 2011 elections, Mr. Uduaghan congratulated Mr. Suleiman for the church’s achievements in just seven years, adding that they were in the church that day to acknowledge what God had done for each of them (governors).

It is speculated that Mr. Amaechi’s confidence in his political battles is anchored on his spirituality.

On his part, Mr. Mimiko is a long standing member of RCCG headed by the revered Pastor, Enoch Adeboye.

The Ondo State Governor and his wife are regular attendees of the Church’s Holy Ghost Convention along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.

Apart from his regular worship at Mosques, Mr. Yuguda is not known to be a devoted Muslim.

In April, he made a controversial religious statement when he said that contrary to popular belief, Islam entered Nigeria from the
southern part of the country, and not the north.

However, his preference for heaven after his sojourn on earth is an indication that the governor, who has though returned to NSGF, is
spiritually deep like his Rivers and Ondo colleagues.

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