Govs fight causes financial problems in states

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Jang: Defeated by Amaechi at NGF election

The crisis rocking the Nigeria Governors’ Forum has started taking a toll on the finances of some states,It was learnt.

Our correspondent gathered that since the crisis started, governors had not been able to take a common stand on the Federation Account dispute and agree on how to share money from the Excess Crude Account.

Already, some of the affected governors are said to have started making subtle moves to resolve the crisis to enable them to confront the Federal Government on the issue.

A governor from the North-Central, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “We are in a dilemma now. Before this NGF crisis started, the governors would have asked their chairman to call a meeting to discuss our finance and the excess crude account.

“But since the factionalisation of the forum, we have not been able to take a common stand and this is affecting some states that depend almost 100 per cent on the money from the Federal Government to pay salaries and do other things in their states.

“It is like the Federal Government is now taking the advantage of the crisis to cheat us. Look at what happened at the FAAC meeting on Thursday. We are now being short-changed and we have no voice to fight for us.”

This newspaper learnt that the concerns expressed by some governors have led the factional chairman of the NGF, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State, to convene an emergency meeting of the forum for Monday to discuss the matter.

In the notice of meeting issued by Jang, it was indicated that the NGF meeting would hold at 6pm at the faction’s secretariat, while there would be another meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at 9pm “in view of the impasse arising from the Federation Allocation Accounts Committee meeting.”

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State had won the NGF election with 19 votes as against Jang’s 16 but some governors had disputed the results and claimed that Jang was the one elected.

On Thursday, members of the Forum of Commissioners of Finance had stormed out of the monthly meeting of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee.

The meeting was conveyed to share the federally collected revenue for May, but the commissioners alleged that over N60bn was still outstanding.

They had argued that the Friday meeting could not hold because the arrears of February had not yet been paid and that the Federal Government did not tell them when the arrears would be paid.

Chairman of FCFN, Mr. Eze Echesi, alongside his colleagues from other states told reporters on Thursday in Abuja that the reason for the boycott was to take “this message to the state governors so that they will put heads together to meet with the President (Jonathan) and every other well-meaning entities of the federation so that these problems will be resolved once and for all.”

The commissioners said the delay in disbursing the arrears had caused hiccups in fund flow of the states and their local governments resulting in their inability to pay contractors and salaries.

Meanwhile, there are indications that pro-Rotimi Amaechi governors will boycott the meeting called by Governor Jang.

The Director of Press and Public Relations to the Sokoto State Governor, Sani Umar, in response to inquiries as to whether his principal will attend the Jonah Jang-led NGF emergency meeting, on Monday, said, “I do not know yet, because he (Governor Wamakka) is currently in Kano.”

On his part, Amaechi said invitation of meetings between the President and governors usually come from the Presidency.

Amaechi, who spoke through the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, told SUNDAY PUNCH that Governor Jang couldn’t have issued the notice of meeting between the governors and the President.

Semenitari said Amaechi would never ignore any invitation by the President.

“The President usually invites the governors for meeting and naturally, he (President) has a means of doing so.

“The truth is that Governor Amaechi will never ignore the invitation of Mr. President. The invitation for a meeting with the President couldn’t have come from Governor Jang,” Semenitari said.

Special Adviser to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State on Media, Festus Adedayo, said, “I cannot confirm whether or not the governor received a notification letter to attend the NGF meeting slated for Abuja on Monday by Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State.

“It is difficult for me to confirm whether a letter was sent or not because we are on weekend.

“I need time to confirm from the officer in charge of governor’s mail. This will be on Monday. I can’t be too sure whether or not the governor received a letter or notification of the NGF meeting and I cannot confirm whether he will attend the meeting or not.”

However, a close source to the governor, said, “For crying out loud you also know the answer. You know quite well that Governor Abiola Ajimobi would not be there; he would not be a party to such a forum.”

Also, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State is not likely to be at the meeting.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, told one of our correspondents on the phone on Saturday that aside from the fact that Governor Amosun would be presiding over the weekly State Executive Council meeting on Monday, he had also declared that he cast his vote for Amaechi  during the NGF election.

Olaniyonu said,“I don’t think he (Amosun) has the plan to attend. Our Exco meeting holds on Monday and I don’t think he will want to miss the Exco and you also know that he has said on an Ogun State Television. Programme, Agbaletu, that he cast his vote on behalf of Ogun State for Amaechi.”

Spokesperson to the Niger State Governor, Danladi Ndayabo said, “We heard about the meeting but His Excellency (Governor Babangida Aliyu) is currently out of the country.”

Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said he would attend the meeting called by the President on Monday.

The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, said he was not aware that Jang had called any meeting.

He explained that the President invited all the 36 governors to a meeting and Fayemi would honour the invitation.

He said, “The Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, has not called any meeting. We are not aware that Governor Jang has called any meeting. The meeting Governor Kayode Fayemi is attending on Monday was called by President Jonathan who personally reached out to all the governors. The governor is not attending any meeting called by Jang   He is not even aware of such meeting.”

Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, said Jang would not have expected Governor Babatunde Fashola to attend meetings called by the factional NGF chairman.

He said, “This Jang faction had earlier called a meeting and didn’t call our governor (Fashola) because he’s not part of them. I guess Jang is calling members of his faction. I’m sure he is not calling the faction that won the election; it is the aggrieved faction that he represents and leads.

“Our governor cannot be in that kind of meeting. He’ll always be at the meeting of the honest, truthful and real NGF faction that won the election and not deceiving the world. It is the Amaechi forum – the authentic faction that won the election – which our governor belongs.”

The Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Osun State, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, equally said Governor Rauf Aregbesola would not attend any meeting called by Jang.

“You know who was elected chairman of NGF; I do not know in what capacity Jang is calling the meeting. I have not consulted with my governor but I doubt if any invitation was extended to him. There was an election clearly won by Amaechi,” he said.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Ondo State governor, Mr. Eni Akinsola, said Mimiko would attend any governors’ forum meeting called by Jang.

He said, “If the letter of invitation to governors emanated from Governor Jonah Jang, it is sure that Governor Mimiko will attend. Governor Mimiko is the vice-chairman to Jang who is the chairman of the governors’ forum. He has not hidden his loyalty and support for the Jang-led NGF.

Meanwhile, the case instituted by the Lagos State governor challenging Jang’s claim on the chairmanship of the NGF comes up on June 25.

The bailiff of the Federal High Court served Jang and the Sole Administrator of his secretariat, Osaro Onaiwo, on Wednesday.

In a related development,  the investigation by the Chief Joe Gadzama-led committee set up by the Peoples Democratic Party  to investigate alleged anti-party activities against Amaechi has put its action on hold.

This is because of the court action instituted by the governor against the committee.

A member of the committee, who spoke with reporters in confidence, said Gadzama was seeking legal opinion on the matter.

 

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