Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi yesterday disclosed the details of how the election of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) played out.
According to him, Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan was the Returning Officer, Uduaghan was one of the governors who met 24 hours after the election to insist that Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang is chairman.
Dr. Fayemi described Jang’s “so-called” endorsement by some governors as “not only childish but petty.”
The Ekiti governor, in a statement, said: “The attention of the leadership of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has been drawn to the distortion of the events leading to the election of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as Chairman of the Forum at its election held in Abuja on Friday.
“We are particularly worried about the deliberate misrepresentation of events at the election in the media by some members of the Forum in the bid to justify the setting up of a parallel group, following the defeat of Governor Jonah Jang in the keenly contested chairmanship election.
“While we are not interested in joining issues with the pro-Jang group in their smear campaign in the media, we feel compelled to correct some of the negative impressions being created in the minds of unsuspecting members of the public through a pot pourri of fabricated stories and outright lies.
“It is on record that all the 35 governors present voted and there is an electronic evidence of this, and Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, served as the Returning Officer in the Friday election that produced Governor Amaechi as chairman of NGF.
“Whereas the pro-Jang group had reportedly premised their position on earlier endorsement of Governor Jang’s candidature by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum and the Northern Governors Forum, it suffices to state without any fear of contradiction that endorsement of a candidate does not translate to actual votes in any election.
“And even if they want to claim it as the result of the election, how come it was originally dated April and contained the names of Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State and Governor Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe State who were absent?
“A candidate can have countless endorsements ahead of an election, but electoral victory is determined mainly by the number of votes he is able to garner at the election.
“Having won the election, Governor Amaechi had demonstrated statesmanship by making his acceptance speech, which dwelled on his readiness to work with his opponent, Governor Jang and the need for the governors to work with the President of the country, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, in moving the country forward.
“Contrary to the rather bizarre position being canvassed by the pro-Jang group, we do not see any reason for us to demonstrate that we won the election.
“The results of the election, as announced by the electoral officer, is clear on the victory of Governor Amaechi. Rushing to Abuja to create the impression of being the so-called authentic Governors’ Forum is not only childish but petty.
“At an appropriate time, a meeting of the Forum will be convened. For now, we are busy concentrating on our developmental work in our individual states rather than indulging in smear campaigns and distortions.
“We implore members of the public not to be hoodwinked by these deliberate distortions in the media. We also urge the media to help enlighten the public on the issues at stake in a bid to build a more enduring democracy.”
However, the Delta State governor denied that he was the Returning Officer. According to him, the Director-General of the NGF, Mr. Asissama Okauru, was the Returning Officer.
He said Amaechi requested him to be his agent and he replied that he would like to be the agent for both the Rivers State governor and his opponent which generated laughter.
He added, however, that the votes were counted openly by the NGF DG and so, there was no need for an agent for either candidate.