by Stanley Azuakola
So, Amaechi won.
In his political career, the Rivers governor has recorded some remarkable political victories, including his Supreme Court victor which enthroned him as governor of Rivers even though he did not campaign for the elections. Yesterday’s victory during the NGF’s poll, ranks among one of his biggest yet, because it pitted him against an incumbent president who was almost ready to back any other candidate but him ever since their relationship declined exponentially this year.
However, some governors, led by the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio, have vehemently kicked against Amaechi’s victory on Friday. They departed after the elections to the Akwa Ibom Governors’ lodge where they described the election of Amaechi as a sham and fraudulent.
Supported by nine other governors, Akpabio said that the ballot papers used for the election were not serialized and so allowed for manipulation. Hence, the faction resolved that they would not recognise Amaechi’s victory and would instead recognise Amaechi’s challenger, Jonah Jang of Plateau, as the Governors Forum chairman.
Some questions are therefore now in order:
1. Is Emmanuel Uduaghan going to renounce?
The Delta governor, who is a strong supporter of the president, served as the returning officer for the election, while the NGF’s director-general, Ashishana Okauru, was the presiding officer. It was Uduaghan who announced the final result after the ballot had been cast. It would seem rather incongruous to have Uduaghan claim that an election in which he was a veritable component in its conduct, was flawed.
2. Is Jonah Jang up for this?
The fight ahead is going to be messy, especially if the breakaway faction goes ahead with its plan and sets up its parallel structure. But Jonah Jang, who is the figure being pushed by the anti Amaechi forces seems like a reluctant party. For instance, in the press conference which was called by the faction, although Jang was there and was called the new chairman of the forum, he did not utter a word but only looked on blankly. At his age, does he still have it in him to fight as messy as would be expected in the coming battle.
3. Where was Ibrahim Geidam?
It is uncertain why the Yobe governor, Ibrahim Geidam stayed away from yesterday’s NGF elections. His absence however puts the anti Amaechi team in a bad place. Geidam is an ANPP governor, who if present might have been expected to vote for Amaechi as most of his APC colleagues did. However, it seems that he was one of those whose signatures had been collected before now by the presidency to endorse the candidate that would be put forward.
Hence, in a statement of resolution which the governor of Akwa Ibom, Akpabio, showed to pressmen on Friday, Geidam’s name was one of the 19 signatories. Now, that resolution had 24th May, 2013 (Friday) as the date it was signed, yet Geidam was not present that day. It shows that evidently, the list by Akpabio was a sham. It was probably the one which reports have variously said Aso Rock was collating with the help of Akpabio and Suswam (the Benue governor).
4. Any hope for 2015?
The thing is that if our elected leaders cannot trust themselves or be trusted to conduct an election for 36 people only, what’s the hope for 2015?
5. Is this the beginning of the end of the NGF?
Quite a few people would not mourn if the back of the NGF is broken. the group is seen by many as a selfish clique. Not many care if Amaechi or Jang wins, as the governors are mostly about their own self interest. But it is worrying to see that some people are hellbent on destroying it just because their side is the minority voice. Now, there are no saints in the NGF, but it might take a lot for Akpabio to convince Nigerians that the election was rigged, especially since he is the acclaimed self-confessed election rigger.