Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, at the weekend explained why the presidency is pushing for his ouster as chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).
He said at a symposium in Ikogosi, Ekiti State, that the presidency was uncomfortable with his leadership of the forum because of his opposition to deductions from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and the litigation by the states of the federation against the establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), from which the federal government has taken out $1 billion from ECA as its seed capital.
He added that he incurred the wrath of the presidency because he also advocated that states should be allowed access to those funds rather than for the federal government to manage them on their behalf.
Amaechi, who spoke at a programme tagged “The Nigeria Symposium for Youth and Emerging Leaders,” organised by The Future Project, said his radical stand on some issues should not have been misinterpreted as an attempt to flex muscles with the federal government.
The presidency, in cahoots with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had made attempts to remove Amaechi to no avail following the support he got from his colleagues in the NGF.
The NGF chairmanship election was postponed until May after a meeting of the governors on February 25 to elect a new chairman was stalled by differences between pro-Amaechi governors and those that backed the presidency against the Rivers State governor.
As part of the plot to unseat Amaechi, the party and the presidency last February, had engineered the formation of the PDP Governors’ Forum (PDP-GF), with Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, picked as its chairman, at a meeting held at the State House, which was said to have been presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The emergence of the new forum was seen as an attempt to weaken the pan-governors’ forum.
With the failed attempt to oust Amaechi, the PDP had come up with a new plot to unseat him by sponsoring amendments to the NGF’s constitution so that the party with majority members would have the right to present a consensus candidate as the NGF chairman. The PDP has 23 governors in the 36-member forum.
It was also gathered that ahead of the May date for the planned election of the NGF chairman, PDP, besides pushing for the right to present a consensus candidate as the forum’s chairman, is also proposing an amendment to the constitution of the forum that would limit the tenure of an NGF chairman to a single term of two years, with no option of re-election.
The party, in addition, wants a stipulation in the NGF constitution that an incumbent chairman shall step down before a chairmanship election to pave the way for an election committee to conduct the election to the leadership positions of the forum.
If the proposal is accepted, Amaechi would not be eligible to seek re-election while the PDP-GF, which is searching for a consensus candidate, would present a candidate to replace him.
Amaechi said his goal in championing the cause of the NGF was aimed at ensuring that the right thing was done, so that the already decadent system being run in the country could be reformed.
The governor, also at the symposium, defended the governors’ support for Jonathan towards the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry in January 2012, saying that they had to do so owing to the way some unscrupulous businessmen were frittering away trillions of naira at the expense of Nigerians.
He expressed resentment at how some businessmen had allegedly swindled Nigeria of over N1.4 trillion in oil subsidy funds, describing this as a criminal act that must be checked at all cost.
He said: “When government is being criticised in some areas, it means people are calling for adjustment and reform in that sector, but stealing of government money to me is criminal. And I believe that such stealing cannot be reformed, it has to be stopped.”
Speaking further at the ceremony attended by youth groups, he said criminal acts such as kidnapping, militancy and terrorism would continue to fester in Nigeria, except “government provides legitimate means of livelihood for the youth, so that they will not use illegitimate means to earn a living.”
He warned students against using the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) as a platform to fraternise with government, saying politicising the body, which he said should be a mass movement, could be counterproductive.
While preaching against a bloody revolution and the break-up of the country as being canvassed by some people, he urged youths to take their destiny in their hands by forming a mass movement that would fight for change.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who also spoke on the occasion, advised the youth to always fight for good governance and ensure that they are prepared to pay any price to achieve the socio-economic emancipation of the people.
Fayemi said the youth should not be disenchanted by the misdemeanour of the few charlatans who found their ways into positions of leadership, saying they should “always embrace leaders with clarity of vision and who display confidence and competence in governance.”