Embattled Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday said he has steeled himself enough to resist all the maneuverings by the presidency and the top hierarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party to push him out of the ruling party.
The National Working Committee of the party had after an emergency meeting on Monday announced the suspension of Mr. Amaechi for contravening “Articles 58 1 (b), (c ), (h) and (m) of the PDP Constitution following his refusal to obey the lawful directive of the Rivers State Executive Committee to rescind his decision dissolving the elected Executive Council of Obiokpor Local Government Area of Rivers State”.
The suspension came three days after the PDP and the presidency failed in their bid to dethrone the Rivers state governor from the chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. The governor won a reelection by defeating the presidency/PDP-backed Jonah Jang 19 to 16 votes.
In anger the PDP suspended him and raised an 11-member disciplinary committee to try him.
But speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday night, Mr. Amaechi said he would not leave the party for those seeking to oust him.
“The suspension is to frustrate me out of the party,” Mr. Amaechi said on the telephone. “They believe I will leave once they do it. But no one can stampede me out of our party. I won’t go anywhere.”
The governor said rather than leave the party, he would remain within the fold to challenge his suspension and victimization with every legitimate weapon at his disposal.
“I will challenge this suspension because it is illegal,” Mr. Amaechi said. “I will use all legal means possible to seek redress. They accused me of not reinstating a suspended local government council chairman who was suspended by the state House of Assembly. Am I a member of the Assembly? Why will anyone blame me for the action of the assembly?”
The governor described his suspension as a political witch-hunt, saying the party was merely reacting in anger to his reemergence as chairman of the NGF.
“They were confident that they would defeat me,” Mr. Amaechi explained. “But they were shocked that I defeated them. They couldn’t take the defeat in good faith, and they needed to do something.”
The governor also said the party was apprehensive about his political future and that it is doing everything possible to bring him down.
“All they are doing has to do with political tussle,” he said. “They believe I will contest for a position and they believe they should stop me now.”
The last few months have been politically stormy for Mr. Amaechi after the presidency and the top brass of the PDP became uncomfortable with him for allegedly opposing party chair Bamanga Tukur and President Goodluck Jonathan on some important national issues.
He is also accused of using his post to strategically position himself as vice-presidential candidate of the party in the coming presidential election.
In late February, the ruling party formed the PDP Governors’ Forum, led by Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, in what analysts see as a last gasp effort by Mr. Jonathan and Mr. Tukur to dilute the perceived growing political influence of Mr. Amaechi, who was elected chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum in June 2011 for an initial two-year term.
In mid-April, the control of the Rivers state chapter of the PDP was wrested from the governor after an Abuja High Court, sacked the executive committee of the party, led by Godspower Ake, a loyalist of Mr. Amaechi.
The court, in a ruling by Justice Ishaq Bello, recognized the executive committee led by Felix Obuah, a loyalist of the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, the presidency’s hatchet man in the battle with the governor.
In late April, the Federal Government banned the Rivers State-owned bombardier aircraft from flying in Nigeria’s airspace again in what critics see as a ploy to cripple the government travels in and out of Nigeria.
Aviation authorities claim the plane’s clearance certificate had expired and that its paperwork was a forgery, an allegation that has been punctured by a House of Representatives Committee that investigated the matter.
The PDP and the presidency spent most of May strategizing on how to defeat the Rivers governor in the NGF chairmanship election held on Friday. Mr. Amaechi however prevailed, and opponents are now fighting back.