Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi on Thursday denied reports that he had threatened to dump the Peoples Democratic Party ahead of the 2015 elections, saying he had no plan to leave the party currently in the throes of internal crisis.
Amaechi said this at the end of a meeting he had with Vice-President Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
A newspaper (not The PUNCH) reported on Wednesday that the governor had concluded plans to leave the PDP along with three unnamed South-East governors.
But Amaechi told journalists at the Villa that it would be foolhardy to dump the PDP because it remained the only national party in the country.
He said, “I am still in the PDP. I am a member of the PDP. PDP is the only national party in the country for now. Why will one want to leave a national party and go to another party?”
Amaechi has for some time been having a running battle with the leadership of the PDP over his leadership style as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. The party’s top hierarchy and some loyalists of President Goodluck Jonathan felt that Amaechi was not spending his term as NGF chairman to attract maximum benefits to the PDP and the Jonathan administration.
Few weeks back and on the eve of the NGF’s election in Abuja, the Presidency and PDP National Working Committee rallied loyal governors at the Villa to form the PDP Governors’ Forum and installed the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, as the chairman with a view to weakening Amaechi’s influence.
Justifying the attempt at breaking the Rivers State governor’s influence, Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Ahmed Gulak, had accused Amaechi of running the NGF like a trade union.
Meanwhile, sources confided in The PUNCH that the Presidency had directed that Amaechi must be stopped from leaving the PDP “in order not to ruin the 2015 political game.”
It was also learnt that the Sambo-Amaechi meeting in the Villa on Thursday was to further feel the purse of the governor and persuade him not to rock the boat for Jonathan.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, was also said to have during his recent peace meeting to Rivers State begged the governor not to leave the party.
JD:This is a nice political statement from Amaechi and i am sure none of the people who visited him will believe what he has said.Truth be told Amaechi has not been well treated by the PDP.We must remember that he was not the party’s candidate for the election that brought him to power.Even though he won the primaries of the party,the powers that be had decided that his ticket be given to one of their favored ones.He had to go all the way to the supreme court to redeem his mandate.since then however ,there seems to be no love lost between Amaechi and President Jonathan.The reason is obvious. Amaechi is a better candidate representing his region at Aso Rock than the incumbent.A very cerebral,well spoken and averagely mannerly person he is being seen as the greatest challenge to Jonathan so far.And the realization has suddenly hit the party that in or out of the party he poses some kind of threat to Goodluck’s inordinate ambition to stay beyond 2015 so the feeling must be,lets keep him in the party.An APC candidate from the north with an Amaechi as vice president could for example upset Jonathan’s plans should he be able to force his way through as candidate for 2015.Amaechi himself appears restless and lets be honest with ourselves after 2 terms as governor,a shot at the vice presidency or even the ultimate prize might not be a bad idea.