NGF LEADERSHIP SAGA: You’re fake chairman, Amaechi taunts Jang
THE SPECIAL ONE
The Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, venue of the monthly National Economic Council meeting was momentarily turned into a theatre hall, yesterday, as both Governors Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Jonah Jang of Plateau State who are both laying claims to chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, met for the first time after the disputed NGF election.
ABUJA—The Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, venue of the monthly National Economic Council meeting was momentarily turned into a theatre hall, yesterday, as both Governors Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Jonah Jang of Plateau State who are both laying claims to chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, met for the first time after the disputed NGF election.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi who polled 19 votes at the election of the governors forum to Jonah Jang’s 16 came into the council chamber to realize that his seat was beside Jang’s.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State; Sokoto State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari; Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi; factional Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mr. Jonah Jang of Plateau State; Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu; Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura and factional Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State,
Oshiomhole , Jang and others
Before now, the seat of the chairman of the governors forum was next to that of the President and would be boldly identified as such.
But in a move that is seen as an attempt by the Presidency to delicately navigate the crisis in the NGF, the seating arrangement at the monthly meeting was slightly altered to play up a seeming neutrality of the Presidency in the crisis.
In order to balance the importance of the two dramatis personae in the crisis, the two governors were seated beside each other at the council chamber where the meeting of the 36 governors with the vice-president and ministers of Finance and National Planning held.
As soon as the two governors entered the council chamber, a mild drama played out shortly before the commencement of the meeting when supporters of Governor Amaechi tried to drag Governor Jonah Jang to where Amaechi was standing to pay ‘homage’ to the Rivers State governor.
Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Niger State, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, a staunch supporter of Amaechi drew Amaechi’s attention to the sitting arrangement when he asked the Rivers State governor, “so you are going to sit with Jang. This is very nice oh. Somebody is trying to be diplomatic here.”
Governor Amaechi who had earlier noticed the sitting arrangement replied: “We are still together. So, I am going to sit with him. The real chairman and the… “he said to loud laughter from those governors present.
Jang walked in, shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with his colleagues, including Amaechi. After being told he was to sit beside Amaechi, he did and Amaechi accepted his greetings, saying: “You are welcome, I am the authentic chairman.”
Jang didn’t respond and both governors sat without saying anything to each other for a while before other people came into the picture.
Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole who noticed the arrangement, held Jang’s hand and pointed to Amaechi, saying “that is my chairman” adding that Jang was the leader of the other PDP extended faction. This drew laughter from those present.
Though Oshiomhole’s comment drew loud guffaws from the governors, Governor Jang wore a bland face as he neither commented nor displayed any emotions.
It is the first time that the governors would meet in the same hall after the controversial election of the NGF that produced two chairmen.
Thursday meeting of the National Economic Council was to discuss the disagreement between the governors and the Federal Government over the allocation of funds from the Federation Account, which led to the state commissioners of finance walking out on the Minister of Finance at the last meeting of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee.
BY BEN AGANDE/VANGUARD
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