Attempts to polarise the Nigerian Governors’ Forum took a fresh dimension on Sunday evening with the emergence of Governor Godswill Akpabio as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Governors’ Forum, a new forum.
The forum is expected to be at par with the already divided NGF led by Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.
The emergence of Akpabio, a known ally of President Goodluck Jonathan, was announced at the end of a late night meeting between the PDP governors and the President.
With the development, it is believed that Amaechi’s power and influence as the chairman of the NGF would be greatly curtailed and wittled down.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting that extended into the early hours of Monday, Akpabio, the governor of Akwa Ibom State, said the PDP Governors’ Forum would not work in conflict with NGF.
Akpabio said, “The Governors Forum still subsists and the new forum will not lead to a crack in the larger forum as other political parties also have the right to form a similar forum.
“There was no move to remove the Rivers Governor as chairman of the Governors’ Forum.”
He said the forum would only be meeting and be taking decisions on issues affecting the party.
Describing his emergence as unanimous, the governor promised to lead his colleagues with respect as he is only “the first among equal.
PDP chairman, Bamanga Tukur, presented Akpabio to journalists.
Forces, suspected to be loyal to the President, were said to have been trying to replace Amaechi for allegedly working against Jonathan’s re-election in 2015.
He was also said to be using his position to promote his rumoured ambition to serve as running mate to Governor Sule Lamido in the 2015 presidential election.
Although Amaechi was at the meeting where the decision on Akpabio’s emergence was taken, he did not wait like some of his colleagues did while the Akwa Ibom State governor was briefing journalists.
Meanwhile, a source privy to the workings of the committee, explained that the selection of the next Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP would follow the established tradition of consensus.
The source said, “The Presidency wants to maintain our time tested practice of choosing a chairman for the BoT based on consensus. This system has worked for us over the years, why change it now?
“If you recall, that was the method that was used for the selection of Sen. Walid Jibrin, as Secretary to the board during the last meeting. The selection of the Chairman cannot be any different.”
Former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, business mogul, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, and former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani are among the party’s stalwarts, who have indicated interest in occupying the position.