By Collins Edomaruse:
Save Nigeria Group (SNG), made up of pro-democracy activists led by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has hinged sustainable development and enduring democracy in Nigeria on the ability of the present administration to institute a credible electoral process.
This was one of the 3-point agenda presented to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, when the group met with him at the Aguda House, Aso Rock, last week.
Speaking to THISDAY last night on the visit, a leading member of the group and General Overseer of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, listed expedited resolution of the friction arising from section 144 of the Constitution as it affects Jonathan and President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as well as the need for the Acting President to put his best feet forward in running his administration.
Bakare, who spoke to THISDAY on phone last night said: “We looked at the present imbroglio of having both an acting president and the president at the same time in the country and the friction it presents.
“We told him that there was the need for a quick resolution of the issue using section 144 of the Constitution to address that. But if the President is well enough, Nigerians should be told so and if not, Nigerians should also be told.
‘’We are not comfortable with what we call black market doctrine of necessity adopted by the National Assembly to address the matter. We don’t want a repeat of the Ernest Shonekan Interim National Government to the extent that somebody will wake one day and takes the matter to court, only for us to hear that the doctrine of necessity was not properly adopted. We are not comfortable with this arrangement,” Bakare said.
Another point on the agenda of the SNG, according to the cleric, is the issue of electoral reform.
“We told the Acting President that, if Nigeria must be taken seriously in the comity of nations, he must take the matter of electoral reform as one that is not negotiable. We also told him that he should strive to conduct a credible election.”
The third point, he said, is the declaration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the Acting President would not participate in next year’s election as a candidate. We told Jonathan that in view of the position of the party, he should see his administration as a transitional one. This means that he has to go to every corner of the country and get the brightest and best hands to work with him to move Nigeria forward,” the cleric said.
On Jonathan’s disposition to the visit, Bakare said: “He received us very well and said the issues raised by us and some other challenges that might be known to many Nigerians were already being addressed by his administration. He said government was already aware of the friction as mentioned by the group, but assured that he was hoping on the prayers and goodwill of Nigerians as well as those of members of the Federal Executive Council to successfully steer the ship of state,” he added.
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