The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio and the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) have been involved in a war of words over the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
It started when Akpabio said during an interview on the Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, that his Rivers State colleague, Rotimi Amaechi who is also the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, had tried to ‘reinstall’ himself as the chairman of the forum, in violation of an agreement drawn up by the governors when Vice-President Namadi Sambo was the governor of Kaduna State.
He added that this bid was strongly resisted by some governors, although he did not mention the specific governors.
He said, “I must advise that Nigerians must practise responsible journalism. Sometimes you see headlines such as ‘Jonathan’s group….’ or ‘Jonathan fails to remove Amaechi.’ Nothing like that ever happened.
“The only thing that happened within the (Nigerian) Governors’ Forum was that our chairman, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, attempted to go for a second term and reinstall himself and we said no.
“The agreement we had was that each chairman should go for only one tenure. A constitution was we drafted. The chairman of the constitution drafting committee was (then governor) Namadi Sambo. We entrenched the provision that there it should only be one tenure each so that there would not be acrimony within the rank and file of the forum.
“We agreed that the Southern and Northern parts of the country should do two years each two. We did that because we had a situation where there was a chairman of the governors’ forum who had a presidential aspiration and we were no longer having meetings. It was starting to look like the forum was trying to wrest power from the people at the Villa. That was not the truth.”
He added that whatever influence the forum has been able to wield as a pressure group was not as important as the unity it had brought in the country.
“I don’t know about power but we have been able to bring together APGA, ACN and others. I don’t think it is has become a pressure group.I think it is because of the events in the country. For instance, when our late President (UmaruYar’Adua) was sick, there was the need for the governors to come together and provide a little bit of leadership and that was what we did. I think that is what we are elected to do.”
Akpabio also said that he had planned on not running for office in 2015, but “due to pressures by my people who are yearning for quality representation based on service. I was compelled to reconsider my decision and yield to the people desire by opting to run for the Senate.”
However, the Rivers State PDP took issues up with him on the allegation of Amaechi trying to reinstall him as the chairman of the Governors’ Forum,saying considering that Akpabio was only one governor among other state governors, his opinion could not be binding on the tenure of the forum’s chairman.
The party, speaking through its Publicity Secretary, Mr Ukwuoma-Nwogba, explained that the NGF had agreed that its constitution be amended for Amaechi to go for a second term and added that any opposition to such a decision was unnecessary.
It added that only the 36 governors could decide whether Amaechi was okay to go for a second term.
“The truth is that Akpabio as governor is not the NGF and his position on the tenure of the NGF chairman cannot be binding on other governors.
“If the governors have agreed to amend their constitution for Amaechi to go for a second term as NGF chairman, there is little or nothing he (Akpabio) can do about it,” the state PDP spokesman emphasised.