Amaechi met President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan at the Port Harcourt International airport today
After several months of mutual suspicion, distrust and sometimes snubbing and resentment, President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Rotimi Amaechi, sat together on Friday night to talk peace.
The setting was the Presidential Villa, Abuja, which less than 24 hours later, hosted another peace meeting, this time between President Jonathan and five northern governors.
Only a week ago the governors – Sule Lamido (Jigawa State), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), and Rabiu Kwankwaso ( Kano ) – were locked in a hide and seek game with the President in Abeokuta where they had gone to seek the intervention of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in the crisis rocking the PDP.
Jonathan was in the town to commiserate with his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, on the death of his mother, and seized the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on Obasanjo.
The governors, who had arrived Abeokuta at about the same time as Jonathan, decided to avoid him and diverted somewhere else to allow the President depart Obasanjo’s before going there.
A few days later, the governors took their case to former military rulers, General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Friday’s meeting between the President and Governor Amaechi was brief after the Rivers Governor said he would prefer a lengthy discussion only if his colleagues from the north were in attendance having facilitated his meeting with the president, in the first instance.
The President obliged him and an appointment was fixed for yesterday.
The five northern governors who were on their way to Saudi Arabia for the Umrah (Lesser Hajj) consequently postponed their journey to enable them be at yesterday’s meeting with the President.
The Jonathan/Amaechi meeting, according to a reliable source, reviewed the crisis in Rivers State and explored how to resolve it.
The source said the talks took place in a ‘large-hearted manner’.
Said the source: “Following the advice of the five northern governors, Amaechi accepted to meet with the President on the security and political situation in Rivers State
“I think there is peace in sight because the President hosted Amaechi on Friday night in an atmosphere devoid of security intimidation when the Rivers Governor attended a dinner a few weeks ago at the Villa.
“The mood between the President and Amaechi was reconciliatory. But Amaechi asked the President to allow the five Northern governors, who are brokering the peace talks, to be part of a meaningful discussion or reconciliation plan to resolve the crisis in Rivers State.
“The President obliged the governor’s request to pave the way for another round of peace session on Saturday.”
Investigation revealed that before Amaechi went for the audience with the President, he had met with the five northern governors on Friday night in Sokoto State Governor’s Lodge for debriefing on their intervention.
There were speculations that Amaechi also confided in the five governors on his terms for peace.
A governor said: “It is true that Amaechi had a preliminary session with the five governors at the Sokoto Lodge before going to the Villa. As a matter of fact, some of the governors postponed their trip to Saudi Arabia for Umrah (Lesser Hajj).”
But a governor said: “Some statesmen and the five northern governors have set the agenda for peace. They wanted the differences between the President and Amaechi handled beyond trading blames.
“They believe that an outright solution to the crisis would be better than addressing sentiments that had dominated the political space in the last two months. Once they are able to secure the commitment of President to peace, other stakeholders would be brought into the deal.”
Yesterday’s meeting with the five northern governors was also attended by Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State and his Borno State counterpart, Kashim Shettima.
Nine governors from across the country, on a solidarity visit to Amaechi on July 18, had advised him to seek audience with the President for the purpose of briefing him on the political crisis in the state especially the role of the Police Command.
On the trip were Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), and deputy governors of Imo, Nasarawa and Zamfara.
They were preceded two days earlier by Governors Kwankwaso, Wamakko, Nyako and Lamido.
They were pelted with stones by thugs on their arrival at the Port Harcourt Airport.