'President Jonathan not involved in Nigerian Governors' Forum election' - Saying that President Goodluck Jonathan was not involved in the election of the chair of Nigeria's umbrella governors' forum, the presidency said 'We have noted with regret the mischievous efforts by sections of the mass media to portray the president as an interested party and the main loser in Friday's polls.'
In a press statement, released here Saturday, the presidency said 'Contrary to the impression of presidential partisanship and interference in the affairs of the Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF) erroneously conveyed by some media headlines Saturday, President Jonathan, who is currently leading Nigeria’s delegation to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, had no preferred candidate in the NGF elections and could therefore not have been 'floored' by any other candidate as some newspapers sensationally reported.'
It said that President Jonathan had the greatest possible respect for the NGF as an independent body of mature, responsible and knowledgeable elected political leaders who have a critical role to play in strengthening democratic governance in the country, and who are quite capable of running their own affairs without being teleguided, as some media reports misleadingly implied.
'The President has always shown a willingness to work harmoniously with any leadership freely and independently chosen by the Governors Forum for the collective progress and development of all sections of the country and will continue to do so,' the statement, signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said.
According to Abati, 'the president has not in the present instance or ever before, interfered in elections to leadership positions in the Governors Forum and so reports in the media which convey that impression are totally off the mark and the handiwork of mischievous individuals and groups with the intention of sowing the seeds of discord and disunity in the polity.'
He said the President Jonathan trusts that as true democrats and respected national political leaders, members of the Governors Forum will quickly resolve the issues and differences amongst them which emerged Friday and continue to contribute effectively to national development as a strong, and progressive body.
The NGF Friday re-elected Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of the oil-rich Rivers State as its Chairman, but not every governor is cheering for him.
In a culmination of a long-drawn political battle and bitter horse-trading, Gov. Amaechi polled 19 votes to beat his sole opponent, Gov. Jonah Jang of the north central Plateau State, who got 16 votes.
PANA reported that the two candidates were from the PDP, which controls 24 of the country's 36 states.
Though the PDP was against the candidacy of Gov. Amaechi, the fact that it could not muster enough votes to defeat him despite its overwhelming majority - in terms of states under its control - is reportedly due to the deep division within the party.
Apart from garnering the votes of the opposition governors, Amaechi also polled at least eight votes from his own party.
The division within the PDP played out after the election, when some governors rejected the result and instead recognised the loser, Jang, as the Chairman of the forum.
They claimed that the election, which was conducted by secret ballot, was rigged in Gov. Amaechi's favour, and that the ballot papers used did not have serial numbers.
Gov. Amaechi, who is being speculated as a running mate for a northern presidential candidate in 2015 elections (even though the President is expected to seek re-election), is widely perceived to have suffered persecution from the federal government in recent times, after his state's private jet was grounded in controversial circumstances.