The Governor of Rivers State, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, on Sunday spurned the plea of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, to return to the reconciliation meeting of the party for the South-South.
The meeting was held at the Civic Centre, Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The Eagle Online gathered that Tukur had permitted Amaechi to see off his Delta State counterpart, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who had to leave the meeting to meet up with the closure time of the Asaba International Airport at 5pm.
Uduaghan, it was learnt, had told Tukur before the commencement of the meeting that he would have to leave midway into the meeting so that the airport is not closed before he arrives there.
Tukur was said to have granted the request.
Tukur also permitted Amaechi to see off his colleague to the airport and return to the meeting.
But Amaechi never returned to the meeting.
Even when Tukur called him on the telephone to return to the meeting, Amaechi did not heed the plea, it was learnt.
The meeting was called to reconcile members of the party in the South-South zone.
The reconciliatory meeting will also hold in other zones of the country.
Before leaving the meeting, Amaechi had appealed to members of the PDP in the South-South to be united in support of the PDP-led Federal Government and the leadership of the party.
Amaechi and the leadership of the PDP have been at loggerheads in the last few weeks.
The face-off reached its peak when a splinter group, the PDP Governors’ Forum, emerged to rival the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, which Amaechi heads.
The meeting that saw to the emergence of the PDPGF was held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with President Goodluck Jonathan, Tukur and other leaders of the PDP present.
Amaechi reportedly walked out of the meeting, which threw up the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Barrister Godswill Akpabio, as chairman of the PDPGF.
Sources, however, said Amaechi was alarmed at the response of Akpabio to Uduaghan’s request that the members of the party should be empowered.
Uduaghan had said in his speech: “Governors of the South-south are committed to ensuring that the PDP continues to maintain a hold on the South-South.
“There is no doubt that if the PDP is strong here in the South-South and not strong in other parts of the country, there will be a problem.
“So, I want to join others in urging you that what ever problems there are at the state, zonal or national levels, let us resolve them quickly so that we can move forward as a party.
“Mr Chairman, there is also an issue I want to raise.
“I know I am a governor but it also concerns me and others who hold positions in the party.
“I was with my predecessor one day when an elder came in.
“I was telling him that if you tar all the roads, even if you air-condition the entire environment and the stomachs of the people, of members of the party, are empty, they will not appreciate what you have done.
“So I want to join them to tell us to ensure that their stomachs are filled so that they will appreciate what we have done.”
But Akpabio, in his response, said: “Well, my brother governor, Uduaghan, said you are hungry.
“So I will give the state chairmen from the six states N1 million per state for Mr. Biggs right now.
“All the state chairmen should see me immediately after my remarks so that at least I will drop N1 million each for Mr. Biggs’ so that PDP can chart the course for empowerment.”
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Ibim Semenitari, said Amaechi only left to see off Uduaghan.
Semenitari said: “You noticed that the governor of Delta State was leaving at that time.
“Governor Amaechi had to be a proper host so he had to see off his colleague, the governor of Delta State.
“I do not see any reason Governor Amaechi would feel insulted by the comments of Governor Akpabio because Governor Akpabio was responding to the comment of Governor Uduaghan.
“The people were obviously the ones who responded.
“The governor of Rivers State had no interest in that.
“Governor Akpabio thought it necessary to dole out some charity to the various states visiting and as chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, that might be one of the ways he felt like reaching out to the people.
“The governor of Rivers State is the host governor.
“Governor Uduaghan is his brother governor.
“Governor Akpabio is his brother governor and Governor Uduaghan, his brother governor was leaving, it was the responsibility of the host governor to see him off.
“I’m sure you noticed that Governor Akpabio came late to the event.
“If it wasn’t an issue that he came late to the event why is it an issue that the governor had to see off his brother governor?”
The Special Assistant on Media to the Delta State Governor, Sunny Areh, confirmed that Uduaghan took permission from Tukur to leave the meeting.