Indications are emerging that the mooted re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan for 2015 has created a rift among the governors of the South-South, the home region of the President.
Even though the disagreement over Jonathan is still a closely guarded secret at the top, it is learnt that some of the governors are at loggerheads with the president so much that they have entered political alliances with other possible contenders, a move that is certain to make Jonathan’s desire to return in 2015 a tough affair.
This shows a sharp departure from the 2011 polls when President Jonathan had the total and unflinching support of all the South-South governors. This time around, only two of the five South-South governors are behind him unless he moves to save the day.
Sources say that the governors that may have withdrawn their support for Jonathan include Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, who doubles as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, and Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross Rivers State.
Sources close to Governor Amaechi say he is of the opinion that the next President should not be based on ethnic considerations, but that the best candidate should emerge regardless of the region he hails from.
But beyond his decision to look beyond ethnic factors for the 2015 elections, it is said that he is having a fall-out with the President over the decision by the Federal Government to cede about 45 oil wells in the Kalabari area of Rivers to Bayelsa, the home state of the President.
Despite assurances by the President that he was not using executive powers to favour his state in the oil well squabble, Amaechi, according to sources, holds a contrary opinion.
Amaechi, while speaking at a town hall meeting recently in Port Harcourt, told the audience that the powers-that-be had decided to deny Rivers State of the oil wells and it was due to the power play and politics preceding the 2015 polls. He allegedly accused the President of trying to clip his wings so that he could not support another candidate in the 2015 elections.
Imoke’s grouse with the President is also connected to another oil well controversy, as he feels the President was indifferent to the plight of Cross Rivers State after its lost substantial oil wells to the neighbouring Akwa Ibom State in a case that had to be decided by the Supreme Court. That decision deprived Cross Rivers State of their highest revenue earner.
A source told The Nation that “The unanimous opinion of many Cross River State indigenes, including the governor, is that the president, after assuming office in 2010, should have used his exalted office to broker a political solution to the oil well issue, rather than allow the state to lose out completely.”