NEC meeting: Seating arrangement averts Amaechi, Jang clash
What would have been a test case of where the pendulum of power would eventually swing between two contending factions of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) was deftly handled.
The two governors laying claim to the chairmanship of NGF, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Jonah Jang of Plateau State, sat side by side at the National Economic Council meeting, which took place at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, Vice President Namadi Sambo presiding.
The VP, all state governors, ministers of Finance, National Planning and Justice are members of the council.
Ahead of the meeting, there had been apprehensions over who actually occupy the seat usually reserved for NGF chair.
Both governors had been said to be determined to occupy a hitherto reserved sit for the NGF chairman at the NEC meeting. Gov. Amaechi had arrived ahead of the 11 am commencement time, which is an apparent indication that he was determined to beat Gov Jang to the seat
But with the adjustment in the seating arrangement, the wind was out of the sail of any possible confrontation between the two contenders.
Prior to the NGF crisis, Amaechi usually sat on the first seat to the right of the Vice President. The seats were designed in such a way that he would be sitting directly opposite Sambo.
However, at the Thursday meeting, Amaechi while making his way to the NGF chair seat, was told by the protocol that governors would sit in alphabetical order.
He 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.
Amaechi quickly returned went Governor Babangida Aliyu, one of his arch supporters, and alerted himof the new development. .
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 .