President Goodluck Jonathan’s design to install a chairman for Nigerian Governors’ Forum failed at the weekend because of suspected protest votes from angry governors who detested the president’s decision to switch his support from Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State to Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State without properly communicating the change to his supporters.
An insider in the whole affair told Sunday Trust that “for about two months, the President had told Governor Shema to stand against Governor Amaechi as chairman of the NGF. The Katsina State governor has been campaigning and preparing his mind to assume that position. However, about a week ago, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State called Yuguda and told him that Yuguda had become the president’s choice, and that he should prepare to stand for the election against Amaechi.”
Our reporter learnt that at a meeting of northern governors at about 11.00am last Friday, Governor Shema was asked to step down for Yuguda, but he refused, claiming that if the president didn’t want him to stand for the election, Jonathan should have informed him personally, and not through another governor. Feeling very bitter, the Katsina State governor rejected all entreaties from northern governors for him to step down for Yuguda.
Sunday Trust learnt further that at about 3.00pm last Friday, when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors met to finalise their plot ahead of the election, the governors were shocked at what happened. Governor Akpabio was said to have put his hand into his pocket and brought out a paper, claiming that President Jonathan had written the letter to him, saying neither Yuguda nor Shema was his candidate. According to Akpabio, the president, before he travelled to Addis Ababa for the African Union (AU) summit, had decided that Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State should be the person to stand against Amaechi at the election.
“Northern governors were confused and angry at the development,” the insider confided in Sunday Trust. “You know, it’s not all northern governors who would support Governor Jang’s candidature, and that was why, though 19 of the governors signed the document claiming to support Jonathan’s candidate, at the polls, about three of them reneged and may have voted for Governor Amaechi.”
The document, Sunday Trust learnt last night, was not signed at the weekend. “It was signed last Thursday at the Economic Council Meeting in order to give an assurance to President Jonathan that his own candidate would carry the day,” an insider told our reporter.
During the election, it was clear that most opposition governors, especially those of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), voted for Governor Amaechi. Also, from the list circulated by Governor Akpabio, it was apparent that northern governors like Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State, Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, though of the PDP, did not support the candidature of Jonah Jang and may not have voted for him.
This may not be unconnected with the cold war between some of these governors and President Jonathan over a purported agreement signed in 2010, in which Jonathan was said to have vowed not to seek re-election in 2015. At least, Governor Babangida Aliyu had severally claimed that there is a subsisting agreement on the issue and that Jonathan could not go against it. Secondly, Governor Nyako may still have his grudges against The Presidency over the way the executive of the party loyal to him in Adamawa State was sacked and a team loyal to PDP’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, has been put in its place.
With that singular action, Nyako has lost control of the party in his state. There are fears that this treatment could be meted out to several other PDP governors who oppose Jonathan’s ambition, ahead of the 2015 polls. Already, in Rivers State, the party’s executive loyal to Governor Amaechi has been removed. It has been replaced a team that supports Jonathan’s loyalist and Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyesom Wike.