Amaechi, Jang lead factions to presidential dinner
For the first time since the election that caused a division in the Nigeria Governors' Forum, almost all the 36 state governors converged on the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday for a mid-term dinner organised by President Goodluck Jonathan.
It was first major test of will for two dueling factions.
Although Jang and members of his faction were already seated before the arrival of the President which signalled the commencement of the dinner, Amaechi and his loyalists arrived at the same time shortly after the event had started.
A mild drama however played out when Amaechi, who cancelled a meeting of the NGF earlier scheduled for 8pm on Wednesday, joined the table where Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State and others were already seated.
In the process of exchanging pleasantries, Amaechi was heard pointing to Akpabio and saying, 'No, you can never be a democrat.'
Amaechi led other governors loyal to him to attend the presidential dinner. Their arrival in the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa was not without drama, as some of the governors ignored the seats reserved for them and sat with journalists at the back row in the hall.
Among those governors were Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), as they were persuaded to return to front row by the Minister of Youth, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir.
Other Amaechi-led NGFgovernors at the dinner were Babatunde Fashola (Lagos); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa); Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Adams Oshiomhole (Edo); Ibikule Amosun (Ogun) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo).
Most of the governors in the Jonah Jang-led faction of the forum were also present at the dinner.
There had been confusion as to whether or not the governors would attend the dinner, following its clash with the planned presidential dinner same day.
Amaechi faction had earlier postponed its post-election meeting in deference to the office of the President.
A source who spoke to our reporter in confidence said the shift is meant to demonstrate that the NGF headed by the Rivers State governor has no personal problem with President Goodluk Jonathan.
The NGF meeting, scheduled for 8pm on WEdnesday, had clashed with a presidential dinner fixed by the President for the same time.
A national daily quoting a source said, 'The NGF members are of the opinion that the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be respected . We have decided to defer to this office and postpone our meeting tonight.
'Since we are in the majority, if we go ahead with the NGF meeting, we will be ridiculing the Office of the President. We are not at war with Jonathan, we want to prove to him that the NGF battle is not personal, it is about the sanctity of the ballot and democracy.'