President Goodluck Jonathan
Friday’s election was to pick a chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the electors were the 36 state governors. But beyond them, there were some other silent or hidden hands who stayed at the background influencing the governors in the decision as to who should be elected or should n’t be. Jaiyeola Andrews unearths these underground but potent players…
President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday through his spokesman Dr. Reuben Abati that he had no hand in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum chairmanship election. Not many would believe him. In the election, the president, the PDP machinery and presidency apparatchik were all behind the latter candidate, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State. That the president is opposed to Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s re-election as NGF chair and openly worked against him is an open secret. It was because of Amaechi’s seeming belligerent attitude towards him that the president allegedly gave support, if he did n’t sponsor outright, the creation of the PDP Governors’ Forum. The president did more to balkanize the Governors’ forum more than some governors themselves.
Former President Obasanjo
Perhaps unknown to many, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the willy Ota farmer, who is still influential in some PDP circles, helped to steer things in favour of Amaechi. There has been no love-lost between the former president and the man he helped to power, President Jonathan, for sometime now.
Amaechi even visited Obasanjo last week in Abeokuta to seek his support, which he was said to have willingly given.
The former president remains a political godfather of sort to Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido and Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako. Both governors rooted for Amaechi in the election.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd)
That opposition leaders Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) would stoke the fire within the PDP-controlled NGF should be understandable. The politics of the opposition parties has always been skewed against PDP and its interests. For the opposition, since PDP had openly declared support initially for Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema and later Jang, political correctness was in rooting for Amaechi. And the Rivers State governor had earlier been alleged to be hobnobbing with the opposition merger group APC. Both Tinubu and Buhari helped to move the 11 opposition governors behind Amaechi and that was block votes for him to swing the pendulum to his side.
Who are the 3 Governors Who Turned The Table against Jang?
Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang was in an upbeat mood after the meeting of the PDP Governors shortly before the election of the NGF chairman on Friday. The governors had prevailed on Governors Ibrahim Shema (Katsina) and Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) to step down from the race and had endorsed Jang as the PDP candidate for the exalted NGF chairmanship.
PDP governors are in a majority within the NGF (23 of them) and the chairman always comes from the party’s fold. At the PDP Governors’ meeting, 19 of the 23 governors had signed a document endorsing Jang-16 PDP and three opposition party governors of Yobe, Ondo and Anambra states- for the position, so the Plateau State governor was as good as having emerged. The election within the larger Governors’ Forum was supposed to be mere coronation as it was always the case. But the unexpected happened.
There was a volteface by three governors. Three governors backpedaled. Who are these governors? THISDAY learnt Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) who earlier endorsed Jang abstained from voting in the larger body. The election was by secret ballot. The ballots had been prepared and printed for the election. Because the voting was by secret ballot, it was difficult to know who of the remaining 18 did not vote for Jang. Speculations abound that Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and Katsina State Governor Shema may have had a change of mind when it mattered most.
There has been no love lost between former Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki, Ahmed’s political godfather and President Jonathan for sometime now, and the NGF election may be a payback time for the former governor. Saraki had moved to contest the 2011 presidential election against President Jonathan. He was among the four northern candidates working to pick a consensus candidate among them. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was picked to contest the PDP primary election against Jonathan. Jonathan had defeated Atiku at the primary election at Eagle Square in Abuja. The presidency was also said to have been piqued by Saraki’s role in the subsidy probe. The former governor moved the motion that paved the ground for the probe of the management of the oil subsidy by the Jonathan government. As for Shema, unconfirmed sources said the Katsina governor may have pulled a fast one in anger. He was promised the NGF chairmanship before only for the PDP to drop him for Jang.