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Published On: Sun, Jul 28th, 2013

Jonathan in Secret Meeting with Pro-Amaechi Governors

President Goodluck Jonathan

LAGOS JULY 28TH (URHOBOTODAY)-President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday had a closed-doors meeting with five Northern Peoples Democratic Party governors in a step towards resolving the crisis rocking the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
The meeting, which was held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had in attendance governors Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe) and Kashim Shettima (Borno).

The relationship between Nyako, Aliyu and Kwankwaso and the Presidency on one hand, and the PDP on the other hand, became strained when the governors supported the re-emergence of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum against Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State.
The northern governors have also been taking sides with Amaechi against the Presidency in the political crisis rocking Rivers.
Apart from paying Amaechi a solidarity visit in Port Harcourt, the state capital, they also met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta on July 20 to discuss issues believed to include the crisis in Rivers State and the PDP. Jonathan also had a separate meeting with former president Obasanjo in Abeokuta same day.
On Monday, the governors also met with former Heads of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar on the same issues in Minna, Niger State capital.
It was learnt that the Saturday meeting of the governors and Jonathan was one of the outcomes of the consultations they had with the former leaders.
A presidency source said the governors would have met with the President alongside Abdusalami when the former military head of state visited Jonathan on Wednesday evening.
He said the meeting was however postponed because the initial time clashed with the expected arrival time of the President’s wife, Patience, who lost her foster mother, Mrs. Christy Oba.
It was not clear whether the formal military leader attended the Saturday meeting.
Although the agenda of the meeting which was held inside the official residence of the President was not made public, the source said it was a continuation of the governors consultation and intervention in the Rivers crisis.
Our correspondent further learnt that the five governors had earlier met at an undisclosed location within Abuja before moving to the Presidential Villa for the meeting that started at about noon and lasted about two hours.
At the meeting, which was the initiative of the President, it was learnt that the governors expressed their misgivings over the Rivers crisis and advised the President not to take sides.
The source who pleaded anonymity, said the governors also told the President that it was wrong for him to back the Jonah Jang-led faction of the NGF, instead of supporting the choice of the majority of the governors.
Besides, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the governors also blamed the party’s National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, for the crises and demanded that he should be sacked.
“The President was told to support the chairman of the NGF, who is from his zone and who was elected by the majority of the governors.
“They also told him that he should realise that he came to office through election and not through endorsement, which Jang is claiming to have before the NGF election.
“They told the President pointedly that there was no way he could wash his hands off what is happening in both the NGF and Rivers State and that he must act as a leader.
“They said if he could do these three things, the tension in the country would be reduced drastically,” the source said.
The President was said to have denied his involvement in both the NGF and Rivers State crises and promised to find a solution to the challenges the party is facing.
Although there were rumours making the rounds that Amaechi also attended the meeting, the President’s spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, who confirmed the meeting of the Northern governors with the President, said the Rivers governor did not attend the meeting.
“There was no such meeting (between Amaechi and the President). I can confirm to you that he met with some governors but Amaechi was not one of them,” the presidential spokesman said.
Source: Punch

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