Jonathan, Amaechi meet in Rivers

By The Citizen

BARELY 72 hours after the Rivers State Governor and the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, was barred from exchanging  pleasantries with President Goodluck Jonathan, the duo met at the Port Harcourt International Airport on Saturday and embraced each other.

Jonathan met and shook hands with Amaechi at the airport before departing for Abuja after visiting his hometown in Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

Though no public speech was made, both Jonathan and the governor, exchanged pleasantries before the President eventually departed for the nation's capital.

Neither the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari nor the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. David Iyofor, picked their calls. They did not also respond to the text messages sent to them asking for the details of the discussion between the duo

But the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, told one of our correspondents that   Amaechi was at the airport to see the President off according to protocol, adding that there was nothing unusual about it.

Abati said protocol required that when the President is in a state, the governor or his deputy should receive him and see him off.

He added that since the President passes through Port Harcourt anytime he is going to Bayelsa State or returning from there, it was expected that Amaechi or his deputy should receive or see him off.

When asked whether the development was an indication that the face-off between the President and the governor was over, the presidential spokesman said there was no rift between the two of them in the first place.

He said, 'Governor Amaechi was at the airport to see the President off. There is nothing unusual about that.

'It is the duty of a state governor to receive and see the President off when he visits a state. In the event that the governor is not available, the deputy governor carries out the task. This is part of protocol.

'In this case, anytime the President is visiting Bayelsa State, he passes through Port Harcourt and the governor receives or sees him off. There is no rift between the President and the governor in the first place.'

The governor has been having a running battle with the President in what many believe is part of the build up to the 2015 elections.

The frosty relationship between Amaechi and Jonathan climaxed when the Rivers governor contested and won the Nigeria Governors' Forum election despite a warning from the Peoples Democratic Party that Amaechi should not contest the election.

The National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party later suspended Amaechi from the party citing a petition written by the Rivers State chapter of the party against the governor for violating some sections of the party's constitution.