Forces opposed to the return of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, yesterday, made fresh moves to unseat him as governor.
Governor Amaechi himself unmoved by report of plans to impeach him, declared that if he was removed, he was satisfied with his achievements and has therefore called on the people of Rivers State to continue to defend their rights, noting that their votes would certainly determine his successor in 2015.This came as some governors have faulted his suspension from the party, saying it was an abuse of the party’s constitution.
The anti-Amaechi group, it was learnt, decided at a secret meeting in Abuja on Monday night to impeach the governor within a month.
The decision to impeach Amaechi was taken as a last resort by his traducers apparently to prove to their sponsors that although they failed to clinch the NGF leadership through the ballot, they were still capable of getting the governor out of the way before the 2015 election.
It was gathered that shortly after suspending the governor from the Peoples Democratic Party, some powerful politicians met in the house of a PDP chieftain in Abuja and hatched the plot to impeach Amaechi from office.
A source close to the secret meeting, which was also attended by some governors in the PDP opposed to Amaechi’s re-election as the NGF chairman, said that the implications of Amaechi’s victory to the re-election bid of President Jonathan was thoroughly examined during the meeting, which lasted for about four hours
The forces arrayed against the Rivers Governor, were said to have frowned at the audacity of Amaechi to stand election against the candidate favoured by the Presidency, thereby portraying the President in bad light.
The anti-Amaechi group was particularly miffed when one of the governors in attendance pointed out that the full implication of Amaechi’s victory meant that President Jonathan could lose the 2015 election, if the trend of the NGF poll was repeated and called for urgent actions to remove the governor.
The major plank of the anti-Amaechi plot, according to sources close to the matter, is to raise a large chunk of money and compromise a majority of the 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, who are still loyal to Amaechi.
The plot is to get at a reasonable number of the pro-Amaechi lawmakers and add to the five, who are loyal to the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, and use them to impeach Amaechi before the end of June.
However, when the foot soldiers complained that it would be difficult to infiltrate the pro-Amaechi lawmakers and get the required number to oust the governor, a governor from one of the South-South states, reportedly opted to take necessary steps to raise the N7 billion required for the ‘coup’ against Amaechi.
But Amaechi said, yesterday, that he had not done anything to warrant being impeached, saying that the plot against him by his detractors would fail.
The governor, who spoke through the state Information Commissioner, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said that members of the state House of Assembly were men of integrity, who appreciated the good work that Amaechi was doing in the state and would not be cajoled to embark on illegality.
“The work that Amaechi has done in Rivers State is self-evident and the people are proud of their governor. If winning a free and fair election of a group of governors has suddenly become an impeachable offence, we leave it to Nigerians to decide.
“But we know that members of the Rivers State House of Assembly are men of integrity and we do not believe that they could be swayed by pecuniary promises,” Semenitari said.
If I am removed, I am satisfied – Ameachi
Reacting to his suspension from the party and report of plans to impeach him, Governor Amaechi said it was surprising that his party could suspend him without any reason, stressing that he had left the issue to God almighty.
Amaechi said: “Indeed, it is only the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has the guts to suspend a governor without a reason. I leave them to God and to you (the people). We must come together to defend Rivers State. It’s not about me; I have served eight years as Speaker, nearly six years as Governor. Even if I am removed tomorrow, I am satisfied that this state, this country and history will recognize and remember me.”
The governor spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt at the opening of an inter party summit with the theme “Cohesive inter party relations as a panacea for peace and sustainable development in Rivers state.”
Chairman of the event, Justice Adolphus Karibi Whyte (rtd) lauded the achievements of Amaechi since he came on board as governor. Describing opponents of the governor as conspirators with a destructive motive, Justice Karibi Whyte further charged the political class to be transparent and pursue the common good at all times.
Govs fault Tukur
Meanwhile, some governors, yesterday, faulted Governor Amaechi’s suspension by the National Working Committee of the party, declaring it as total abuse of the party’s constitution.
As was gathered yesterday that the governors argued that only the National Executive Committee, NEC of the party has the power to suspend a governor and not NWC according to the party’s Constitution, 2012 as amended.
Governors are also key members of NEC besides the National Chairman, President, Vice President and others.
Citing section 59.3 of the constitution, the governors contended that the Bamanga Tukur-led NWC was wrong and the decision must be reversed.
According to the section, ‘’Notwithstanding any provision of this Constitution relating to discipline, no Executive Committee at any level except the National Executive Committee shall entertain any question of discipline as may relate or concern a member of the National Executive Committee, President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Ambassadors, Special Advisers or member of any of the Legislative houses.”
In a related development, crisis rocking the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, has taken another turn as Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo will tomorrow formally open, the office of the factional chairman of the Forum, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State who was declared the chairman of the forum by some governors.
The office which is located in Maitama, Abuja will be declared open at 4pm, tomorrow, by the Vice President.
According to the source, these Chairmen were invited to be part of the event because their parties produced governors who are members of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, adding that the leadership of the National Assembly have also been invited to the be part of the opening of the secretariat.
Confirming the opening of Jang’s Secretariat with Vice President Sambo declaring it open, the Sole Administrator of the Secretariat, Osaro Onaiwo said that letters have gone to everybody ahead of tomorrow’s event, even as he said that governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State was invited along side other governors, adding that the forum is not an opposition to any body and also not quarrelling with anyone, but an avenue to harmonise issues affecting thee states and how to deliver on democracy.
It was also gathered that governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are asking the Bamanga Tukur led National Working Committee, NWC to as a matter of urgency call for a meeting of National Executive Committee, NEC where issues bothering on the party will be tabled and addressed.
The governors who are calling for NEC meeting, a source told Vanguard that the meeting which has failed to hold was partly responsible for the problems confronting the PDP as a party that were almost tearing it apart, even as they said that the last meeting was held last year July which was against the constitution of the party.