Gov. Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers on Friday in Abuja re-emerged Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) in a fair and transparent election, the returning officer in the election, Asishana Okauru, has said.

Mr. Okauru, who is also the Director-General of the forum’s secretariat, said the election was free and fair and that votes were counted in the open.

Mr. Okauru said “Amaechi won the transparent election with 19 votes while Gov. Jonah Jang of Plateau, who contested the position with him, got 16 votes.

“I  served as Returning Officer and after counting the votes cast by all governors here, except that of Yobe, the forum`s incumbent Chairman, Gov. Amaechi of Rivers emerged winner.

“He got 19 votes against Gov Jonah Jang of Plateau who got 16 votes,’’ Mr. Okauru said.

He added that Gov. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo and his Zamfara counterpart, Abdulazeez Yari, contested the Vice Chairmanship position of the forum.

Mr. Mimiko, he said, withdrew from the contest shortly before the commencement of voting and yielded his position to his Zamfara state counterpart, who now returned unopposed.

However, those in the camp of Gov. Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom protested the reemergence of Amaechi as the forum`s chairman.

Mr. Akpabio, who is the Chairman of the Peoples` Democratic Party Governors Forum (PDPGF), said the result of the election was not valid.

He held that 18 governors had endorsed Jang as their candidate and wondered how Amaechi could have won the election.

He posited that Amaechi was not supposed to have presided over the election, adding that he should have stepped down before the election.

Mr. Akpabio maintained that his camp would only recognise Jang as the NGF’s chairman while Mimiko of Ondo would serve as its vice chairman.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that governors of Kogi, Bauchi, Delta, Enugu, Plateau, Cross River, Anambra and Ebonyi, among others, were at Akpabio’s briefing.

The NGF had so far had five governors as chairmen since inception.

Its pioneer chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, then the governor of Nasarawa State, held the position from 1999 to 2004.

Victor Attah, then governor of Akwa Ibom, succeeded him and was there for two years from 2004 to 2006 when the then governor of Edo, Lucky Igbinedion, replaced him.

Whereas Mr. Igbinedion was in office until 2007, his successor, Bukola Saraki, then governor of Kwara, led the forum from 2007 to 2011.

The exit of Mr. Saraki from the Forum paved the way for the election of the current chairman, Mr. Amaechi, since 2011.

Under its first three chairmen, Messrs Adamu, Attah and Igbinedion, the forum was largely regarded as a platform where the governors came together to rub minds and relax.

However, under Mr. Saraki, it began to take on more serious issues. The forum helped the governors to win a share of the Excess Crude Account.

The NGF is an umbrella body of the 36 governors in the federation irrespective of party affiliation.

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