by Rachel Ogbu
Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State both claiming chairmanship of the factionalised Nigeria Governors’ Forum sat next to each other at the National Economic Council meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo.
On Thursday, Amaechi was said to have found himself in an awkward situation at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja after a new sitting arrangement positioned him right next to his nemesis, Jang.
Up until now, there had always been a reserved sit for the NGF chairman at the NEC meeting and both governors were said to have prepared themselves to take the seat on arrival.
Amachi who arrived ahead of the 11am starting time of the meeting, was heading towards his usual seat as NGF chairman when a protocol official and Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State told him that governors would now sit in alphabetical order.
According to reports, Amaechi smiled and searched for his seat only to discover that he would be sitting besides Jang, since their states (Plateau and Rivers) followed each other in alphabetical order.
Aliyu reportedly said to Amaech while laughing: “That (the seating arrangement) is good. I think somebody is trying to be diplomatic here.”
Also laughing Amaechi had replied: “Yes o! The authentic chairman (beating his chest) will sit beside the pretender!”
The Punch replied:
However, the real drama played out when Jang arrived. He was also heading towards his usual seat when they called his attention to the fact that the seating arrangement had changed.
He greeted Babangida, Mimiko and Osun State Deputy Governor on his way to his new seat.
As he approached his seat, Amaechi rose to give him a handshake as the battery of photojournalists surged forward again to take pictures.
Amaechi smiled while Jang avoided eye contact with his colleague. Jang also had a handshake with the Director-General of NGF Oshashima Okauru.
The VP, all state governors, ministers of Finance, National Planning and Justice are members of the council.
The adjustment in the seating arrangement however averted what could have been a confrontation between the two feuding governors.
He usually sits on the first seat to the right of the Vice President. The seats are designed in such a way that he would be sitting directly opposite Sambo.
They both sat down quietly pretending to be busy by perusing some of the documents that were placed on their tables by the NEC secretariat staff.