Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, had on Thursday said that the Peoples Democratic Party‘s Governors’ Forum was established because the leadership of the ruling party was not satisfied with the way the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, handles the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. He affirmed that the Governor now runs the forum like a trade union.
In an interview monitored on Independent Channels Television, Gulak said that the Governor’s handling of the forum was now contrary to what the PDP leaders expected of him.
According to him, the PDP decided to form a forum for its governors, since the party no longer has influence over the NGF because governors of other political parties are also members.
His words: “The PDP, whether it likes Governor Amaechi to lead the Nigeria Governors’ Forum or not, it does not have influence on the forum because other governors are there.
“But what we believe is that the leadership of Amaechi in that forum has completely gone contrary to what PDP expects a PDP governor to do.
“The Nigeria Governors’ Forum has really constituted itself as a trade union, some elder statesmen have really come out to explain things in that perspective.
“For instance, about three weeks ago, Prof. Jubril Aminu came out publicly to say the NGF is not supposed to be a trade union. It is supposed to be an association of governors coming together to discuss common challenges in the country, not to hold the country to ransom.”
In a swift reaction, the Director-General of the NGF, Dr. Asishana Okauru, on Thursday said the NGF was never run like a trade union, contrary to Gulak’s assertion.
“The NGF operates as a policy hub and it is responsible for servicing all the 36 governors across party lines. It (NGF) is not a political association and it is not run like a trade union,” he told one of our correspondents in Port Harcourt.
Also, the Rivers State PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr. George Ukwuoma-Nwogba, said it was wrong for anyone to accuse Amaechi of running the forum as a trade union.
Ukwuoma-Nwogba, while describing Amaechi as the leader of the governors, stated that only those who lacked the knowledge of administration would conclude that the forum was being run like a trade union.
But Gulak said it was now a common practice for the NGF to threaten court actions over little things.
He said, “Small thing, they will threaten to go to court contrary to the mechanism within PDP to solve issues. I hope the leadership of the NGF has not done well in that regard as far as we PDP are concerned.
“Our expectation from any governor from the PDP is to first and foremost explore all avenues within the party mechanism to see how issues and problems are solved.”
Gulak further clarified that with the way Amaechi was leading the NGF, nobody within the PDP could pretend to be happy with the Rivers governor, whom he said had refused to subject himself to party supremacy.
He said, “I believe and everybody within the PDP, nobody should pretend that we are happy with the leadership of the NGF. We are not happy because of their attitude, because of their refusal to really explore the mechanism within the party.
“We believe that as chairman of the NGF and as a PDP governor and as a member of the PDP, Amaechi should subject himself to the supremacy of the party and the leadership of the party.
“We have our elder statesmen at the Board of Trustees, some issues must be referred to them for discussion and to proffer solutions.
“We believe that the BOT for example is the conscience of the party and the party is supreme and the party can” question anybody.
He said the establishment of the new forum was one of the ways the PDP was using to strategise in order to meet up with the challenges that the merging opposition political parties could pose to the ruling party.
He said, “The PDP as a party has decided to have its own Governors’ Forum. Why do we have the ACN Governors’ Forum for example? The ACN governors, though very few in number, meet from time to time to discuss their party, to discuss their common challenges and aspiration.
“Why should people lose sleep because the PDP as a party has decided to form its governors’ forum?
“You are aware that these other political parties, the Congress for Progressive Change, ACN, and All Progressives Grand Alliance recently said they better come together to form another party that will challenge PDP; of course, we encourage them to have a party that will be national in outlook.
“But we cannot sit down as a party to watch them. We have to come back home and strategise and call our governors to strategise.
“Though these people are few in number: the ACN plus CPC plus ANPP is equal to APC is less than the PDP, but we have to strengthen ourselves, move out and continue mobilisation and the good work the PDP as a party has been doing.”
Asked about his stand on Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu’s claim that Jonathan signed a pact with northern governors to serve for only one term of four years, Gulak insisted that there was no truth in the claim.
According to him, while Aliyu has constitutional right to contest the highest political office in the country, the governor does not have the right to make frivolous allegations.
He said, “There has never been anytime that Mr. President agreed or signed a pact with governors that he will run for one term. There is no agreement like that. Mr. President has not signed any agreement in that regard.
“I have said that if the Niger State Governor has come out to make such an allegation, the fact is if he has an aspiration to be the President, he is serving his second and final term as a governor, he has the constitutional right to do so.”