The never-ending clash between President Goodluck Jonathan and the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi surfaced yet again over the weekend as the Presidency responded to the allegation by Amaechi that it was after him by saying that the governor had an agenda.
Amaechi had also accused the President of being after him due to his opposition to the fraud in the fuel subsidy scheme, the Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
However, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak responded by saying that the governor had an agenda, and despite his right to contest for the highest office in the country, he should pursue that agenda without accusing the President unjustly.
He said, “If he has an agenda, he is entitled to pursue his agenda. He is a Nigerian. He is qualified to hold the highest office in the land.
“He is a politician and he is entitled to pursue his agenda but he should stop making frivolous allegations about the President.”
The presidential adviser added that the President had no reason to move against the governor, or any PDP governor, as they all belonged to the same party.
He said, “The President is a man who follows the provisions of the constitution. The President is a man who consults robustly before taking decisions.
“The governors are members of the National Economic Council and that council, though advisory to the President, takes a lot of decisions about the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Excess Crude Account and everything. If they don’t agree, such decisions are not implemented.
“It is wrong for Amaechi to say the President is after him because of that. People should not play to the gallery. If people have agenda, let them pursue their agenda but let them not point fingers at Mr. President.
“Mr. President is not pursuing anybody. Mr. President is not pursuing Amaechi or any other governor; after all, they are all members of the same Peoples Democratic Party family.
“But that does not mean that things should not be properly done and agencies must be allowed to do their work.”
Another presidential aide, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, said that there were far more important issues to attend to by the President than witch-hunting governors.
He said, “I will be surprised if the governor of Rivers State made such a statement. That statement does not apply to President Jonathan, he does not pursue anybody. He is not a vindictive person.
“President Jonathan does not abuse his office. I totally disagree with such a statement, it cannot be true. I know for a fact that it is not true.
“It cannot be correct. The President has nothing to gain or lose whether Amaechi remains the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum or he is removed.
“The President is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he is not a governor and the activities of governors are not his business directly or indirectly.
“He has more serious issues to contend with, delivering on the promises of his transformation agenda which is what he is doing currently.”
The Rivers State Government responded to Gulak’s statement by accusing him of turning himself into the “Wada Nas of Jonathan’s administration.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr David Iyofor, who made this statement, said that rather than the presidential aide to build bridges between the president and Governor Amaechi, he preferred to pick fights when none existed.
He said, “With each passing day, it is becoming too clear that Gulak is certainly an adviser that Mr. President does not need. Instead of building bridges for his principal, Mr. President, Gulak has embarked on a self-imposed, suicide-like mission of burning bridges for his principal and picking fights where none exists.
“Adviser Gulak has turned himself into the Wada Nas of this administration with his unguarded and uncouth statements.
“We will not condescend to his (Gulak) level or join issues with him. We are too busy delivering democracy dividends to Rivers people. We have no time for clowns and Wada Nas-like characters like Gulak.”
Another close aide of Amaechi, who refused to be mentioned, said some of Jonathan’s aides were not adding value to the Office of the Presidency.
“How can he (Gulak) say Amaechi has a hidden agenda or a presidential ambition? For somebody in the Presidency to say that Amaechi has a hidden agenda shows that they are the people carving out such an agenda.
“The truth is that the President’s aides are not adding value to the Office of Mr. President. All they (President’s aides) are doing is just to advance their interest.
“We contributed an aircraft to the Goodluck/Sambo presidency. His aides, who are now peddling falsehood, never contributed anything to President Jonathan’s success at the last election,” he added.
There has been a serious deterioration in the relationship between Jonathan and Amaechi in recent times with many political analysts attributing the cause to 2015 politics, especially with speculations that a bloc within the Peoples’ Democratic Party wants Amaechi to be the running mate on a ticket that will challenge Jonathan in the party’s primaries.
Last week, Amaechi had at a seminar organised in Ikogosi Ekiti, Ekiti State, by the Future Project, that the Presidency was not happy with him for insisting that transparency and accountability were needed in the payment of petrol subsidy.
The governor said it was because of this that the governors forum went to court to challenge the legality of the Federal Government’s action of using money meant for the three tiers of government to pay for petrol subsidy.
“It is one reason they don’t want me as the governors’ (forum) chairman,” Amaechi said at the seminar.
Similarly on Thursday, Amaechi had accused the Federal Government of not allowing a helicopter Rivers State bought into the country because the FG feared that the helicopter would be used for the 2015 elections.