Kano State Governor, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, Monday opened up on the intrigues which resulted in the emergence of two governors as chairmen of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), stating that it was a battle for supremacy and a game in which supporters of the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, outsmarted supporters of his Plateau State counterpart, Jonah Jang.
Kwankwaso who made this disclosure yesterday while addressing journalists at Kano House in Abuja, said the election was a forum through which the group of 19 governors who voted for Amaechi, proved to their opponents that they were still at the elementary level of politics.
Kwankwaso’s admission was made just as the Jang-led faction of the NGF held its inaugural meeting in Abuja yesterday to arrive at a position on the outstanding funds due to the states and local governments from the Federation Account.
According to the Kano State governor, those among them who supported Amaechi detested the idea of someone attempting to choose their leader, revealing further that he nominated Jang and asked the Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, to support him only with the intention of satisfying the search for a compromise candidate by the group of 16 governors.
He said they decided to re-elect Amaechi because he had shown that he had the capacity to lead the forum and possessed the ability to galvanise their interests, a task which he said they didn’t believe Jang could do. He also boasted that if another election were to be conducted today, Amaechi would still win comfortably.
He further admitted that he bluntly told the governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Shehu Shema, that he would never vote for him at the election because he never told him (Kwankwaso) that he was running for the chairmanship of the forum.
“I told Shema that I was terribly disappointed in him. I told him, ‘you are my brother and friend and you never told me that you are contesting.’ I told him that I would never vote for him and that I was sure that he would lose the election,” he revealed.
Kwankwaso added: “It was a game and we were trying to prove to them that nobody could shave our heads in our absence. That was why we proved to them that they were still at the elementary level of politics.
“We were not expecting anybody to choose for us. What we did in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum was that when we realised that we would not get Shema or Isa (Yuguda) elected, we decided to give them their chairman. “I nominated Jang and asked Suswam to support him. We gave them who should lead the minority group.
“If another election is held today or tomorrow, Amaechi will get more than 19 votes because all of us who voted for him are much more determined to support him now. Amaechi is a good man and he has our support.”
Kwankwaso, who said the leadership of Amaechi of the forum was beneficial to all of them, said he was ashamed of the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, whom he said needed to learn how to talk. According to him, given his position as the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum (PDP-GF), Akpabio’s comments was not befitting of his office, adding, “I think he should better keep quiet.”
He warned his counterparts in the Northern Governors’ Forum who have pulled out of the forum to have a rethink, ominously forewarning that if they failed to retrace their steps, neither the governors nor their candidates can secure future elections in the north.
“I don’t see how any of them or their candidates can win any election in the north again if they are not in Northern Governors’ Forum,” he said. Kwankwaso also warned against the gale of suspensions in the PDP, saying if the trend is not checked, many options are available to people being suspended, a situation which he said would be counter-productive for the party.
He added that he had warned his colleagues against lack of transparency during the NGF election, stating: “I began to say that if we don’t have democracy in the governors’ forum, I wonder where we will have it.” Also on a Facebook posting by his Director of Press, Halilu Baba Dantiye, Kwankwaso indicated his unwavering support for Amaechi.
He was quoted as saying Amaechi won the NGF election with the support of people like him.
Kwankwaso boasted: “Many of us joined politics before PDP. I was deputy speaker under SDP. We were in politics before many of them joined and the fact must be recognised and appreciated. We are field marshals. “We are Kwankwasiyya (a movement named after Kwankwaso). We tell the truth and stand by it. We stand by the truth, justice and our country.”
Meanwhile, the meeting summoned by the factional chairman of the NGF, Jonah Jang, to discuss the walkout last week by the state Commissioners for Finance over the non-payment of outstanding funds from the Federation Account was attended by 16 out of 36 governors.
All 16 governors had voted for Jang on May 24 when the NGF election took place. The meeting, which started at about 6.30 pm, was attended by the governors of Plateau, Ondo, Taraba, Abia, Ebonyi and Kogi States, as well as the deputy governors of Benue, Delta, Katsina, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Enugu, Anambra, Gombe and Cross River States.
Of the governors at the meeting, 14 of them were from the ruling PDP, while Governors Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and Peter Obi of Anambra State were from the Labour Party and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) respectively.
It was gathered that before the meeting, the PDP governors held another meeting at the Akwa Ibom State governor’s lodge in Asokoro District, Abuja, before moving to No 2 Nana Close, off Nile Street for the Jang-led faction of the NGF meeting.
Addressing the press at the end of the meeting, Jang yesterday responded to Amaechi’s jab at him on Sunday, stating that he was not an impostor, as he cannot impersonate Amaechi as Rivers State governor.
He also said that he needed only 12 governors to attend the NGF meeting, adding that the constitution of the governors’ forum, which he leads, was clear on what constitutes a quorum.
“We need just 12 governors to form a quorum and we have 16 governors in attendance,” he said.
On whether he was impersonating Amaechi as the NGF chairman, he said: “I am not an impostor, did I say I am the governor of Rivers State?”
However, he failed to make any comment on the resolution of the governors with respect to the funds owed the states and local governments. In a related development, President Goodluck Jonathan met last night with the governors of the 36 states of the federation over the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) controversy.
At the meeting, it was decided that a four-man committee, to be headed by Yuguda, will meet today at 9 am with the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and her Minister of State, Dr. Yerima Ngama, to resolve all issues pertaining to the outstanding funds owed the states and local governments.
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