Chief Tony Anenih
•Gov says presidency should stop meddling in NGF
•Wamakko: We do not recognise Akpabio as chairman, PDP Governors' Forum
By Chuks Okocha and Ernest Chinwo
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, has pleaded with Rivers State Governor and Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Chibuike Amaechi, not to defect from the party.
Anenih, accompanied by other members of the BoT, made the plea when he visited Amaechi Tuesday in Port Harcourt.
Anenih’s visit to Amaechi coincided with a statement by the party Tuesday that its National Working Committee (NWC), headed by the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and BoT were not working at cross-purposes.
The visit came amidst fears that Amaechi along with his supporters were preparing to leave for another party.
Amaechi’s recent romance with governors and members of the merging opposition coalition preparing to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) was said to have piqued the leadership of the PDP which felt that it was an indication that the governor might quit the party.
Although Anenih’s meeting with Amaechi was held behind closed doors, a source at the meeting told THISDAY that while the BoT chairman said Amaechi remained an asset to the party, Amaechi gave conditions for his continued stay in PDP.
It has also emerged that during Anenih's meeting with the Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko, last week, he told the PDP BoT chairman that he and other northern governors on the platform of the party do not recognise Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, as the chairman of the PDP Governors' Forum.
According to the source, Amaechi said he would remain in the PDP only if the presidency stopped meddling with issues concerning his chairmanship of the NGF and resolved the oil well dispute between Rivers and Bayelsa States.
He was said to have insisted that the presidency stopped using a serving minister from the state to create crisis in the state and the state executive of the PDP.
He also insisted that the federal government should institute fiscal federalism to allow states handle their affairs without interference from the centre.
A release issued by the Governor’s Office said Anenih described Amaechi as a force and one of the leaders of the ruling PDP.
It said Anenih and his team were in Rivers State to consult with Amaechi over important national and party issues in the PDP.
It quoted Anenih to have said: “We are here this morning (yesterday) to meet the governor of Rivers State to discuss issues that are important to the corporate existence of this country, issues that will help us stabilise the system, issues that will make the PDP stronger and issues that will make us live in a decent society.
“We are here to consult with him as one of the leaders of the party and again, I think I am a part of Rivers State.”
It said Anenih commended Amaechi for bringing good governance to the people of Rivers State.
“I want to say that I think it was last year I was here and inspected most of the projects, the ongoing projects. I believe I’ve seen on my way from the airport that some of the projects have been completed.
“We are here also to appreciate the governor for what he is doing for the people of Rivers State,” Anenih said.
Amaechi, in his response, said the PDP in Rivers State was peaceful. He recalled that the PDP supporters in the state gave two million votes to President Goodluck Jonathan during the last election and assured him that his administration would encourage the people of the state to continue to vote for the PDP during elections.
He said: “Chairman, like we did say to you, PDP in Rivers State is peaceful. We also have told you that we produced two million votes for the president. So we thank you for coming.
“All we are saying to you is tell the party to please treat us well so that we can encourage our people to continue to vote for PDP. We are members of PDP and we will remain members of PDP.”
Among other BoT members on the delegation were the PDP National Vice-Chairman, Dr. Sam Jaja, Prof. Jerry Gana, Chief Tonye Graham-Douglas and Chief Ebenezer Babatope.
However, as members of the BoT were trying to appease Amaechi, THISDAY gathered that some northern PDP governors have made it clear that they do not recognise Akpabio as the chairman of the PDP Governors' Forum.
Governors, who hold the position include Wamakko, who did not hesitate to make this known to Anenih last week, as well as Governors Sule Lamido and Babangida Mu'azu Aliyu of Jigawa and Niger States respectively.
Wamakko was said to have made it clear that Akpabio's position was untenable and would foster disharmony in the party.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the PDP Tuesday denied that there was a rift between the NWC and BoT.
A group, the Forum for Equity and Justice, had on Monday asked the Anenih-led BoT to leave the Tukur-led NWC alone so that the latter could concentrate on its duties.
But the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, in a statement, denied that there was a rift between the BoT and NWC, saying: “We are aware that this group of meddlesome interlopers and political jobbers with no fixed address has been commissioned to stir up controversies and to portray the BoT as working at cross-purposes with the NWC.”
According to Metuh, “For the avoidance of doubt, the NWC and the BoT are united and committed to providing the necessary political direction for the party.”
Metuh said the BoT had in no way usurped the functions of the NWC, explaining: “His reconciliatory visits complement the reconciliation and consolidation tours embarked upon by the NWC and they have been yielding desired results.
“The NWC is solidly behind the activities of the BoT in further uniting the party which is central and cardinal for the party ahead of 2015.”