by Akan Ido
The rift between the Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and President Goodluck Jonathan seems to be getting worse by the day.
While responding to Amaechi’s claim that the Presidency is after him, the special adviser to the president on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak implied that the Rivers governor has an agenda.
This is how the Punch Newspapers reports it:
The Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, who spoke to one of our correspondents during a telephone interview implied that Amaechi had an agenda.
The relationship between the President and the governor has deteriorated in recent times with several reports saying the feud is all about 2015 politics.
There are speculations that a bloc within the Peoples Democratic Party, which is opposed to Jonathan, wants Amaechi to be the vice-presidential aspirant of a duo that will challenge Jonathan in the party’s future presidential primaries.
Amaechi had also said Jonathan was after him because he had opposed the fraud in the fuel subsidy regime, the Sovereign Wealth Fund and the Excess Crude Account.
But Gulak, who said Amaechi had the right to contest the highest position in the country, warned the governor to pursue his agenda without accusing Jonathan wrongly.
He said, “If he has an agenda, he is entitled to pursue his agenda. He is a Nigerian. He is qualified to hold the highest office in the land.
“He is a politician and he is entitled to pursue his agenda but he should stop making frivolous allegations about the President.”
The presidential adviser added that the President had no reason to move against the governor, or any PDP governor, as they all belonged to the same party.
He said, “The President is a man who follows the provisions of the constitution. The President is a man who consults robustly before taking decisions.
“The governors are members of the National Economic Council and that council, though advisory to the President, takes a lot of decisions about the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Excess Crude Account and everything. If they don’t agree, such decisions are not implemented.
“It is wrong for Amaechi to say the President is after him because of that. People should not play to the gallery. If people have agenda, let them pursue their agenda but let them not point fingers at Mr. President.
“Mr. President is not pursuing anybody. Mr. President is not pursuing Amaechi or any other governor; after all, they are all members of the same Peoples Democratic Party family.
“But that does not mean that things should not be properly done and agencies must be allowed to do their work.”
Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, was also on hand to defend Jonathan saying the president has more important issues on his table than going after governors.
He said, “I will be surprised if the governor of Rivers State made such a statement. That statement does not apply to President Jonathan, he does not pursue anybody. He is not a vindictive person.
“President Jonathan does not abuse his office. I totally disagree with such a statement, it cannot be true. I know for a fact that it is not true.
“It cannot be correct. The President has nothing to gain or lose whether Amaechi remains the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum or he is removed.
“The President is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he is not a governor and the activities of governors are not his business directly or indirectly.
“He has more serious issues to contend with, delivering on the promises of his transformation agenda which is what he is doing currently.”
Reacting to Gulak’s statement on Friday, the governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. David Iyofor, said Gulak had turned himself to the “Wada Nas of President Jonathan’s administration.”
The CPS said rather than build bridges for his boss, the special adviser to the President was burning bridges and picking up fights where none existed.
He said, “With each passing day, it is becoming too clear that Gulak is certainly an adviser that Mr. President does not need. Instead of building bridges for his principal, Mr. President, Gulak has embarked on a self-imposed, suicide-like mission of burning bridges for his principal and picking fights where none exists.
“Adviser Gulak has turned himself into the Wada Nas of this administration with his unguarded and uncouth statements.
“We will not condescend to his (Gulak) level or join issues with him. We are too busy delivering democracy dividends to Rivers people. We have no time for clowns and Wada Nas-like characters like Gulak.”
Also, a close associate of Amaechi, who preferred anonymity, said some of President Jonathan’s aides had failed to add value to the Office of the Presidency.
“How can he (Gulak) say Amaechi has a hidden agenda or a presidential ambition? For somebody in the Presidency to say that Amaechi has a hidden agenda shows that they are the people carving out such an agenda.
“The truth is that the President’s aides are not adding value to the Office of Mr. President. All they (President’s aides) are doing is just to advance their interest.
“We contributed an aircraft to the Goodluck/Sambo presidency. His aides, who are now peddling falsehood, never contributed anything to President Jonathan’s success at the last election,” he added.
Amaechi, had said last week, at a seminar organised in Ikogosi Ekiti, Ekiti State, by the Future Project, that the Presidency was not happy with him for insisting that transparency and accountability were needed in the payment of petrol subsidy.
“It is one reason they don’t want me as the governors’ (forum) chairman,” Amaechi said at the seminar.