•Rivers gov fixes NGF meeting for tomorrow
•Meeting may clash with Jonathan’s parley
From TAIWO AMODU and IHEANACHO NWOSU, Abuja
In a seeming show of strength, Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi has fixed a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) under his leadership for tomorrow. A terse statement from the NGF secretariat located at Asokoro, Abuja disclosed that the parley would hold at 8pm.
The agenda was, however, not stated in the release. This is even as President Goodluck Jonathan will meet with the governors same day in Abuja for a mid-term dinner. The President also scheduled talks with the governors after Governor Jonah Jang’s last Wednesday met with his NGF’s faction.
Amaechi was re-elected as Chairman of the Forum of 36 governors on May 24, 2013 in a controversial election. Amaechi had polled 19 votes, as against 16 scored by his rival, Plateau State Governor Jang. Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Geidam was absent at the election. Jonathan is believed to be supporting Governor Jang. A governor in the Amechi’s faction who does not want his name mentioned said that most of his colleagues will attend a meeting called by the President in deference to his office.
He said that there was no need for what he called unending feud with the President over NGF. He said: “There is a limit to personal interest as against national interest.
The most important thing is to keep Nigeria one, protect its integrity, while also attracting certain projects and appointments to our state. So, I’ll attend the dinner called by the President. We are not fighting the President, even though we had problems in the NGF election. In fact, as a ‘war-time’ President (apparently referring to the insecurity in the North East), he has achieved so much.
“We are not fighting the President even though we had problems in the NGF election. In fact, as a ‘war-time’ President (apparently referring to the insecurity in the North East), he has achieved so much”. The election had since polarised the NGF into two factions: The pro-Jang faction claimed precedence that the Chairman of the Forum had always emerged through consensus.
The other faction is pro-Amaechi, which enjoys the support of all the governors in the opposition parties with the exception of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and Peter Obi, governors of Ondo and Anambra states respectively.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors who have declared support for Amaechi’s leadership of the forum are Rabiu Kwankwaso, Sule Lamido, Babangida Aliyu and Dr. Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, governors of Kano, Jigawa, Niger and Sokoto in that order.
The faction led by Governor Jang had since vowed not to recognize Governor Amaechi’s leadership of the forum and had followed up its threat with the commissioning of a parallel secretariat at the Maitama area of Abuja.
But since the commissioning of the parallel secretariat, only 16 governors had attended the two meetings convened by Jang. Amaechi, during a recent visit to the NGF secretariat at Asokoro, had vowed not to surrender his mandate, which he said was freely given by his colleagues.
“No, I will not step down; that’s a mandate that is freely given and I will stick to that mandate. There is no special benefit that the Chairman of Governors’ Forum gets… I am only proving a point that Nigerians are allowed to run for any post they want to run and when they do and they are elected, they should stick to their mandate. “That’s the only point,’’ Amaechi told newsmen.
Last week, the Rivers State governor had cautioned Governor Jang to stop impersonating him, following invitations to a meeting of the forum which was convened last week by the latter, to resolve the crisis arising from the stalemated meeting of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) held penultimate week.
The notice for tomorrow’s meeting was sent to the 36 governors. Director-General of NGF, Ashishana Okauru, confirmed this to Daily Sun on phone: “The notice for tomorrow’s has been sent to all the 36 governors.
The NGF is one; we don’t believe there is any faction”, Okauru said. But ahead of the meeting, the Jang faction had claimed credit for the resolution of the impasse between the state and Federal governments over fund arrears.
Director-General of the Jang’s faction, Earl Osaro Onaiwu, in a statement, claimed that the resolution of the impasse was made possible following the intervention of the Plateau State governor and his deputy, Governor Mimiko who led the governors to a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.
Onaiwu stated in the statement that the arrears of statutory funds owed the 36 governors was resolved last week following the intervention of the NGF Chairman (Jang), who “made a very profound and non-combative presentation on behalf of all the governors present’’.
Part of his statement reads: “Before the current leadership, one of the most contentious issues between the governors and the Federal Government was the sharing quotient of revenues from the Federation Account and Excess Crude Fund. The issue created a big gap between these tiers of government.
This was no doubt a worrisome situation that needed to be handled with tact and diplomacy in order to achieve an amicable resolution of the issues. “Consequently, the forum resolved and set up a committee of its members to engage the Federal Government on the FAAC issues with a mandate to represent the Governors’ Forum and to critically examine every point of contestation between the governors and the Presidency without acrimony and recommend a way to approach the President and tackle the problem amicably.
“During the meeting with the President along with all the other governors of the federation, the NGF Chairman made a very profound and non-combative presentation on behalf of all the governors present.
“It is with delight that I announce on behalf of the Chairman of the Forum, that the Federal Government, after reviewing the presentation of Gov. Jang set up a presidential committee chaired by Gov. Isa Yuguda, who is a seasoned banker/financial expert, having served as a former MD/CEO of a top bank. Members include the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu. Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo, a former Accountant-General of the Federation and Governor of Gombe State. Mr. Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State.
The committee resolved some of the issues which led to the immediate release of all outstanding revenues accrued to the states from the federation and excess crude accounts. And the monies have since been released to all the states including the arrears.
“Gentlemen, there is something intrinsic here that is worthy of note. The current NGF Chairman, Governor Jang, employed every bit of tact, good communication and seminal experience to present the position of his colleagues to the President.
It was his mature manner of approach that convinced Mr. President to set up the presidential committee, which led to the amicable settlement of the issues and the immediate release of the funds, and an end to the matter that has long caused friction between the two tiers of government.
“As you can see, from the context of putting the records straight, the above singular accomplishment of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum under the leadership of Governor David Jang is an eloquent reference point to the original aims and objectives of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum; which is to foster improved relationship and partnership with the Federal Government, for the common good of members, and by extension, the people of Nigeria, and to serve as a platform for peer review and sharing of best practices amongst its members providing innovative solutions to help the governors solve today’s most pressing challenges in their states.
“Gov Jang is committed to ensuring that the Forum is not used as an organ of open defiance and opposition to the policies of the Federal Government, but instead one that will work in synergy with all tiers of government for the common good of our nation.
This new approach is already yielding positive results, as evidenced by the amicable settlement of the federation and Excess Crude accounts sharing imbroglio that has lingered for too long”, the statement noted.