The President’s men’s hammer on NGF
By his age, he is old enough to be the father of President Goodluck Jonathan. He once declared himself as the president’s godfather and the President has described him as his father. Chief Edwin Clark, a former Minister of Information, is seen by many as one of those who speak the President’s mind. Not a few believe that once he speaks, his sentiment can be taken as the President’s.
There are other men, who share such slot with the elder statesman. One of them is Minister of Niger Delta Godsday Orubebe.
Of recent, both men have attacked the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and its leadership, Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
Clark, in a recent open letter to the NGF, described it as undemocratic and practically called for its ban.
He said: “The Governors’ Forum is now acting as an opposition party to the Federal Government. It deliberately breaches with impunity the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the constitution of the PDP, without any challenges. The Forum has now become a threat to the peace and stability of Nigeria. Most of the governors today are more dictatorial than the then military governors.
“The over-bearing influence of the Governors’ Forum in the polity has become a matter of serious concern. The activities of the PDP Governors Forum, in particular, have become very disturbing and call for urgent correction as they are fast eroding the authority and the supremacy of the party and posing a serious threat to our democracy. The forum has become a powerful tool in the hands of the governors who now use it to pursue and promote their individual and collective interests with little or no regard to the letter and spirit of the Party’s Constitution and supremacy.”
Orubebe, who was nominated by Clark into the cabinet, was more frontal in his attack. He went straight for Amaechi’s jugular.
He said: “Unfortunately, the man (Amaechi) has forgotten that it was by the grace of God that he became the governor of Rivers State. He has forgotten so soon. He has arrogated to himself, powers that he does not have. It is God that has powers.
“Today, he sees himself as the governor of governors and he begins to feel that he is even bigger than the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But I want to let him know that God is still God. He must have respect for the Presidency. He must have respect for the President of this country.
“It is sad. It is unfortunate that people from the South-South, even governors, particularly Governor Rotimi Amaechi, have no respect for the President of this country. I think this is the right time we should let him know and I have decided to speak because this is the time to speak.”
Amaechi, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, David Iyofor, said: “Contrary to his madcap vituperations, Governor Amaechi has tremendous respect for the office of the President of Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan. The office of the President of Nigeria is a big institution that deserves utmost respect and it would be grossly irresponsible for anyone to disrespect Mr. President, which unfortunately Minister Orubebe is doing by dragging the President’s name into his inability to deliver on the East –West road.
“Minister Orubebe seems to suffer from a severe form of selective amnesia as he conveniently forgets that the same Amaechi he (Orubebe) now contemptuously, disgracefully and insolently disparages and flippantly accuses of not respecting Mr. President led Rivers people to overwhelming vote for and gave President Jonathan the highest votes by any state in the country at the last presidential elections. Minister Orubebe should please tell us, what respect, regard and show of love is bigger than that?
“Minister Orubebe’s imprudent and reckless attacks on the person of Governor Amaechi are a dubious but obvious attempt by the minister to divert attention from his abysmal failure to deliver on the East- West road. This callous attempt to drag the President’s name into it is what is most disrespectful and irresponsible.
“I challenge Minister Orubebe to show the world projects he started and completed in the Niger-Delta as Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs. I challenge Minister Orubebe to show the world one project he started and completed in Rivers State with the huge resources allocated to his ministry. “Or is Rivers State not part of the Niger-Delta, Minister Orubebe?”
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. Jibril Aminu has also attacked the NGF, calling it an oppressive group. He said the governors were not practising democracy in their states.
He said: “It is very strange. I worked in many countries and have not seen anything like such a forum. The Governors’ Forum is what is used to oppress everybody, including the President.”
He said it was difficult to fathom that governors wanted to have their way in everything, “including nominating who becomes an ambassador or member of the National Assembly. I don’t know how the forum came about in this country. And if it is not checked, it will put the country in serious trouble, as the state chief executives unite to challenge the Federal Government.”