South-South governors woo Jonathan

2010-02-22
THE PUNCH Newspaper-Sola Adebayo


Indications emerged on Sunday that the governors of the South-South zone have begun moves to reconcile with the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

A reliable source in the Presidency told our correspondent on Sunday that virtually all the six governors of the zone had visited Jonathan in the past one week to pledge their loyalty and assured him of their commitment to the success of his administration.

The source stated that the governors of Akwa-Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio; Bayelsa, Chief Timipre Sylva; Cross River, Mr. Liyel Imoke; Delta, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; Edo, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole and Rivers, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, visited Jonathan separately to express their readiness to work with him to steer the ship of the country.

The governors of the zone were alleged to have spearheaded moves to scuttle the ascendancy of Jonathan as acting president in the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua who has been undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for acute pericarditis since November 23, 2009.

Some of the governors were also accused of sponsoring anti-Jonathan campaigns in the National Assembly and allegedly funded the legal actions embarked upon by the hawks loyal to Yar’Adua, to prevent Jonathan from emerging as the acting president.

But our correspondent gathered from Presidency sources on Sunday that the governors dumped their hard stance since Jonathan became acting president through the proclamation of the National Assembly on Tuesday, February 9.

Findings by our correspondent showed that the governors made frantic efforts to secure audience with Jonathan in the aftermath of his emergence as interim Nigerian leader.

One of the aides of Jonathan, who spoke to our correspondent on the phone, stated that the governors suddenly developed interest in Jonathan presidency when it became clear that they could not sustain the campaign to keep Yar’Adua on the exalted seat in absentia.

He said some of the governors in the zone literally relocated to Abuja in desperation to secure audience with the acting president.

According to the presidential source, the governors in turn renounced their anti-Jonathan campaigns and assured him that they would henceforth be loyal to him and his administration.

It was gathered that the latest moves by the governors, especially those who won their elections on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, might not be unconnected with the rumoured plans by Jonathan to effect sweeping reforms in the party.

Investigation revealed that the governors and their aides feared that the anticipated reforms could truncate their future political aspirations, especially their second term bids.

Our source further stated that the governors probably opted to reconcile with Jonathan to forestall widespread rumour that some loyalists of the acting president in the zone were set to replace the present political leaders in the area.

The source stated, “All the governors of the South South have been coming to the Presidency to pledge their unalloyed loyalty to the Acting President and to appeal to him to put the circumstances of his emergence as Nigerian leader behind him. They promised to back him and support his administration and also appealed to him (Jonathan) to support them in their political undertakings,” added the source, who craved anonymity.

The governors could not be reached for their reaction to the report before press time on Sunday.

However, a media aide to one of the governors, described the action as “Survival strategy by the governors.

“The governors have to survive in the new dispensation and they may not have choice but to reconcile with the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who is currently in charge of who gets what in the PDP and in the government,” added the aide, who craved anonymity.

 

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