By Vincent Ikuomola:
Former Defence Minister Theophilus Danjuma yesterday gave a strong admonition to the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan: “Act now, the time is short,” he urged.
He advised the Acting President to concentrate energy on things that would have immediate and tangible impact on the lives of Nigerians, such as stabilising power supply, securing the fragile peace in the Niger Delta and ensuring transparency in the forthcoming elections.
Lt.-Gen. Danjuma said these in his acceptance speech as chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) inaugurated in Abuja yesterday by Dr. Jonathan. According to him, the Acting President needs to act swiftly so as not jeopardise the massive goodwill he currently enjoys.
The ex-minister described the Acting President as someone with the quality of a leader who can effect the needed changes in the country, noting that what he lacked previously was the power to act.
The National Assembly had by a unanimous resolution, on February 9, installed Dr. Jonathan as Acting President after a prolonged power vacuum created by President Umaru Yar’Adua’s emergency medical trip to Saudi Arabia on November 23, last year. The President was brought back to the country in the early hours of February 24, but he has neither been seen nor heard in public ever since.
Danjuma, who is reputed for blunt talk, said yesterday: “This is a decisive moment in our history. At such moments, God always ensures that a nation possesses significant personalities who are to act as His agents for change. You, Mr. Acting President, are the significant personality that God has chosen at this time to take your place at the frontline of the struggle to save our country. Because the times are extraordinary, the measures that need to be taken are not only urgent but also extraordinary. Unless you take those measures quickly, the goodwill you now enjoy may be lost.”
He added: “Fortunately, you have the required courage and vision. What you did not have in the past was the authority. Now that you have been invested with the authority, the nation expects you to proceed quickly to effect the needed transformation. This is the right time for you to act – now when you can act quickly and aggressively, now when the society can be trusted to be so generous as to credit you with your successes and excuse your errors.
“Having said this, I must take account of the fact that this administration has barely 12 months to serve out its tenure. This is not an awfully long time to deal effectively with all the problems set out in our (the PAC’s) terms of reference. But then, one day is a long time in politics. Mr. Acting President, you have sufficient time to make a difference.”
While saluting President Yar’Adua for his “effective use of sticks and carrots in the resolution of the long-standing Niger Delta problem,” he said: “His grant of general amnesty to the militants leading to the solution of lingering Niger Delta problem is most commendable. We now fervently urge you to implement all the measures that have been agreed upon, in order to reconcile the people of that area to the nation. The absence of peace in the Niger Delta is a threat to peace in the nation as a whole.”
Danjuma also spoke on the need for the Acting President to step up the fight against corruption, and expedite action on providing power for Nigerians. He also urged the Acting President “to pursue that effort to its logical conclusion with all speed, determination and sincerity. If all you do as Acting President is to ensure that our elections are transparent, it shall be sufficient to endear you to the nation and you shall go down in history as one of our greatest leaders,” he added.
Inaugurating the council, Dr. Jonathan charged the members to “come up with practical options that will enable this government improve the quality of life of all our citizens.”
He told them: “This is beyond politics; it is the big call of our generation. Our citizens are expectant.”
The Acting President also noted: “Although the time is short, like a determined athlete, we need no more than a hundred metres to make our mark on the sands of good governance. But we cannot do it alone. A people-focused and beneficial variety of governance is a bold and cooperative affair, delivered by patriotic men and women who believe in the limitless possibilities for our country. I am convinced, therefore, that the best advertisement of good governance is its positive expressions of happiness in the lives of the governed.”
While assuring the committee of the government’s continuing support, Jonathan said: “Your recommendations and suggestions will not be treated with levity. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) and other key members of the Federal Government will pay attention to what you have to say on matters within the scope of this national assignment.”
Renowned constitutional lawyer Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN) is deputy chairman of the panel.
Members are: Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Amb. G. B. Preware; Prof. Bartholomew Nnaji, Mr. Basil Omiyi; Alhaji M. D. Yusufu, Mallam Muhammed Hayatuddeen; Justice Alfa Belgore; Hon. Chibudom Nwuche; Dr. Bamanga Tukur; Alhaji Ismaila Isa; Prof. Shehu Said Sarinwata, and Dr. Simon C. Okolo.
Others are Chairman, National Economic Summit Group, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa; Mr. Fola Adeola; Mallam Abubakar Gimba; Mr. Kase Lawal; Mrs. Mobola Johnson; Hajiya Halita Aliyu; Alhaji Magaji Danbatta; Prof. B. G. Bajoga; Dr. Sally Bolujoko; Mrs. Mariam Uwais, and Chief Kanu Agabi.
The Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is Secretary.
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