The Presidency on Friday said Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was free to resign from the Peoples Democratic Party, if he was no longer ready to respect President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the party.
PDP leaders in Rivers State led by Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, and a former governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili, had met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, where they tabled the governor’s alleged offences.
At the meeting, Jonathan said disregard for party rules by public officers elected on the party’s platform should not be tolerated.
The governor is currently under suspension for alleged disobedience of the Rivers State PDP’s directive to reinstate the chairman and executive of Obio/Akpor Local Government. He was also suspended for running for a second term as chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, against the party’s directive.
Amaechi had last Saturday in Port Harcourt said the party could not order him to reinstate the suspended local government executives.
He also said if the PDP becomes uncomfortable for him and his supporters, they might be forced to quit.
But speaking on behalf of the Presidency, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, advised the governor to leave the party voluntarily.
He said, “Discipline of party members lies with the party leadership at the national level. If the state chapter is complaining of anti-party activities by the governor, they will make such known to the National Working Committee.
“Of course, you would recall that the state chapter had forwarded a petition on the governor to the national leadership of the party and based on that, the NWC suspended him.
“So the President was right by stressing at the meeting that there would no longer be room for indiscipline in the party.
“It is expected that party members, no matter how highly placed, should abide by the rules and regulations of the party.
“Anybody who is not ready to abide by party rules can go to anywhere he wants to go. Anybody who does not believe in party supremacy can look elsewhere where his excesses may be tolerated.
“From the President to councillors on the platform of the party, the PDP expects a high level of discipline, loyalty and respect for the party and its leader from them.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the meeting considered ways to ease the governor out of the party, to pave the way for his eventual removal by the courts.
A PDP source, who did not want to be named, said Amaechi’s expulsion from the party was a matter of time.
“If Governor Rotimi Amaechi persists in his misbehaviour, if he remains adamant in his opposition to the party leadership, if he refuses to show respect and loyalty to the party and its leader, he will have no room in the party.
“The national leadership of the party will be left with no other option but to show him the way out.”
Neither the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communciations, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, nor the governor’s media aide, David Iyofor, was willing to comment on the matter.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the expulsion option was considered because the impeachment option could not be immediately pursued.
This is due to the refusal of the 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly loyal to Amaechi to dump him.
Another obstacle is the court cases instituted by the governor against any move to impeach him or probe his administration.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the gameplan is for the party to expel him from the fold and approach the courts for a judicial declaration that he lacks the legitimacy to remain on his seat.
Section 59(5) of the amended PDP Constitution 2012 states, “Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the National Executive Committee shall have power to expel any member of the party for acts of indiscipline or misconduct which brings, or is likely to bring, the party into disrepute.”
The plan is that after the party’s forthcoming special national convention, the matter will be tabled at the next PDP NEC meeting for consideration.
The party has shied away from taking a decisive step against the governor to give time for Jonathan to consolidate his hold on the PDP through the national convention.
The convention had been scheduled for July 20 but had to be postponed because of the forthcoming Ramadan.
Acting PDP National Publicity Secretary, Tony Okeke, declined to comment on the matter after earlier promising to speak.
Apparently confirming the fresh anti-Amaechi move, spokesman for the five anti-Amaechi lawmakers in the house of assembly, Mr. Evans Bipi, advised him to leave the party voluntarily and not wait to be disgraced out.
“There is no plan to impeach Amaechi. But we want him to leave voluntarily. He cannot be in the PDP and continue to romance with the opposition party. He must leave by himself and we will not miss him if he leaves the PDP.
“We will not miss him because he is not a threat to the party’s ambition. The governor said the other day that if the party continues to suffocate him, he would leave. Let him leave. We want him to leave the party for us,” Bipi added.
Reacting, the Speaker of the House, Mr. Otelemaba Amachree, maintained that it was not possible for the governor to be impeached under his leadership since he (Amaechi) had not committed any impeachable offence.
Amachree, who spoke through his Media Assistant, Mr. Jim Okpiki, expressed optimism that any plot to remove Amaechi as the governor would succeed.
“The Speaker would prefer to leave his position in the House than to be a party to any plot to remove the governor. The truth is that the plot to remove Amaechi will not work because he has not committed any offence that should warrant his removal as a governor or his expulsion as a member of the PDP,” he said.