President Goodluck Jonathan has moved to formally recognise Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, as the chairman of the Nigerian Governors? Forum.

Jonathan had consistently denied any link to the intrigues that preceded the May 24 election of a new chairman of the forum.

The President had also denied backing any candidate after a crisis erupted over the declaration that Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, beat Jang by 19 ? 16 votes in the election.

But, Jonathan shifted ground on Thursday night at the PDP family dinner in Abuja, when in his address he recognised Jang as ?the chairman of the NGF.?

On Friday, the Plateau State governor led 12 governors and two deputy governors to a meeting with the President, where a source said Jonathan formally recognised Jang as the winner of the election and pledged to do all in his power to ensure a smooth tenure for Jang.

Jonathan?s volte-face came some days after a video recording of the election was circulated on social media and shown on a private television station. The recording indicated that Amaechi actually got 19 votes while Jang garnered 16.

Governors at Friday?s meeting were Liyel Imoke (Cross River); Segun Mimiko (Ondo); Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); Peter Obi (Anambra); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); Theodore Orji (Abia); Ramalan Yero (Kaduna); Ibrahim Dakwambo (Gombe); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Idris Wada (Kogi); Ibrahim Shema (Katsina); Isa Yuguda (Bauchi).

The deputy governors of Taraba, Garba Umar, and Benue, Steven Lawani, represented their states at the parley, which came less than 24 hours after the group inaugurated its secretariat in Maitama, Abuja.

The source told Saturday PUNCH that the President and the governors discussed ways of preventing Amaechi from taking control of the forum.

The source said they also discussed the strengthening of the PDP ?in the face of recent challenges.?

Saturday PUNCH also learnt that the meeting considered security challenges in the country, the state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and further steps to be taken to wipe out the extremist Boko Haram sect.

They also discussed the possibility of convening a National Executive Committee meeting of the PDP in the shortest possible time.

However, the pro-Jang group was mandated to break the ranks of the pro-Amaechi group and woo them to the side of ?the President?s men,? the source added.

They also discussed strategies for ?capturing? Anambra and Ekiti states in the governorship elections scheduled for 2014 in both states.

They agreed that efforts would be made to settle any crisis in both states to ensure a smooth sail for the PDP during the elections.

Jang told State House correspondents after the meeting that he led the team of governors in his capacity as their chairman to congratulate the President on his mid-term achievements and to consult with him on national issues.

He said, ?We have met with Mr. President with me leading a team of governors from the Nigerian Governors? Forum to congratulate Mr. President and to consult with him on very serious national issues.

?You know the security problem in the country and what we need to do in the coming two years to ensure that democracy stabilises and development continues in the country.

?Well, let me tell you there is no factionalisation in the NGF. The NGF is one and I am the chairman of the NGF.?

When the governors discovered that journalists were bent on asking more probing questions, they quickly led Jang away.

After emerging from Jonathan?s office, the governors stopped at two different spots between the President?s office and the entrance to the briefing room where journalists were waiting for them.

On both instances, the governors conferred for about five minutes each.

They insisted that the short interview would hold while they were standing because some of them were in a hurry to go for Juma?at prayers.

PDP leaders had warned Amaechi against seeking a second term as the NGF chairman, a directive the governor ignored.

In a swift reaction to his victory, PDP suspended Amaechi for alleged disobedience to the Rivers State chapter?s order for him to reinstate the chairman of Obio Akpor Local Government in the state, Mr. Timothy Nsirim.

The President?s meeting with members of the Jang faction might have confirmed that he has more than a passing interest in the group.

Meanwhile, Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, on Friday said Amaechi was validly elected as the NGF chairman.

In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs, Prince Kassim Afegbua, Oshiomhole said it was surprising that governors who participated in the election turned around to deny the result.

He also said it was shocking that ?governors who claim to be duly elected representatives of their States could lower the bar of credibility and integrity just for the sake of dubious politics.? He debunked a media report (not PUNCH) that Amaechi?s travails began when he donated N500m to Oshiomhole?s re-election campaign, noting that the allegation was ?spurious, very ridiculous and roguish.?

The statement titled ?Governor Amaechi did not donate to Oshiomhole campaign,? said it was not true that the Rivers State governor spent two nights in Benin before, during and after the campaign.

The statement said there was nothing wrong with Amaechi attending Oshiomhole?s inauguration in his capacity as the NGF chairman.

?We find it utterly misleading for anyone to deliberately raise unverifiable claims just to give the Rivers State Governor a bad name and portray the Edo State governor in bad light with respect to campaign funds and management of same. The relevant provisions of the Electoral Act 2006 (as amended) frown on such bogus donations by either an individual or corporate body for the campaign of any individual candidate running for election.

?The beauty of democracy and credible elections is the exhibition of the spirit of sportsmanship by the loser and his party, and not this invidious show of hostility by the opposition PDP. When the Comrade Governor earlier referred to the PDP as a party of rogues, the party went for his jugular by calling him unprintable names and churning out all manners of lies and concocted tales just to make an impression. ?With the recent outcome of the Nigeria Governors? Forum election which returned Governor Amaechi as duly elected, and following the U-turn of those who participated in the exercise, the Comrade governor?s roguish description of the PDP has become instructively appropriate.

?It is better for the PDP to look for other reasons why it has wrongly taken certain actions against one of its own, than looking for convenient ways to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. It is shameful that governors who claim to be duly elected representatives of their States could lower the bar of credibility and integrity just for the sake of dubious politics.?

Attempts to obtain comments from the Action Congress of Nigeria and Congress for Progressive Change on Friday failed as their spokesmen did not respond to calls and text messages to their phones.

Source: Punch

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