Despite the fact that their fighting over who won the election for the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have been bitter and public, Governors Jonah Jang and Rotimi Amaechi of Plateau and Rivers State respectively turned their difference into material for jokes at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting yesterday.
It started early when Amaechi arrived ahead of the 11am starting time of the meeting and was heading towards his usual seat, which is 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.
As Amaechi was making his way to the seat, a protocol official and Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State called his attention to the change in the seating arrangement.
He was told that governors would sit in alphabetical order. He smiled and searched for his seat only to discover that he would be sitting beside Jang, since their states (Plateau and Rivers) followed each other in alphabetical order.
Amaechi quickly returned to Aliyu, who is one of the members of his faction of the NGF, to tell him that he would be sitting beside Jang.
Amidst laughter, Aliyu said, “That (the seating arrangement) is good. I think somebody is trying to be diplomatic here.”
Amaechi, also laughing, said, “Yes o! The authentic chairman (beating his chest) will sit beside the pretender!” They all laughed over it while Amaechi returned to his seat.
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.
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.
Governor Adams Oshiomole of Edo State added to the comic relief when he said while facing the camera and pointing at Amaechi, “This is my chairman.” Then he turned to Jang and said, “This is PDP faction chairman”