By Donald Ojogo, Chris Agbambu, Ayodele Adesanmi and Biodun Muhammed:
PALPABLE tension and anxiety appear to be pervading the nation’s seat of power as reports filtered through on Tuesday morning that members of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet have perfected plans to forcibly bring in the ailing president before the end of the week.
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan is said to be ‘very disturbed’ by the report, according to a source close to him.
The plot, ostensibly meant to stave off attempts by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to commence moves for the exit of the ailing president from office, is coming as the Federal Government’s delegation to Saudi Arabia left on Monday.
There are fears that the delegation might have difficulties in its efforts to see the president in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as previous ones had equally met brick walls.
But the latest move by members of the kitchen cabinet, described by a competent source as Plan C, since the six-man FEC delegation was named last week, is coming as the group failed in its earlier bid to frustrate the visit by the ministers.
It is alleged that the difficulty in the procurement of visas for the ministers was master-minded by the kitchen cabinet.
The means of bringing in the ailing president could not be confirmed from the source at press time.
The source said: “As I am talking to you now, a lot of things are happening since the delegation departed for Saudi Arabia First, the kitchen cabinet made frantic efforts to stop the issuance of visas to the ministers. When they failed in that regard, they wanted to stop the presidential plane from being granted a landing permit.
‘Cabal wants to sabotage Jonathan’
The Niger Delta Restoration Initiative (NDRI), a coalition of socio-cultural groups in the Niger Delta region, has warned of a fresh plot by a cabal with membership within and outside the presidency, to plunge the nation into another round of tension and instability by sponsoring acts of economic sabotage aimed at discrediting the leadership of Acting President Jonathan.
The group stated that besides ongoing efforts to frustrate any bill presented before the National Assembly to alter the nation’s constitution so as to legitimise the resolution empowering Jonathan to act as president and further consolidate his hold on power, the alleged cabal had adopted a new strategy, including crippling of fuel supply nationwide by creating artificial scarcity of petroleum products and sponsorship of reports on militant attacks on oil pipelines in the Niger Delta.
In a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja and signed by its President-General, Mr Pupagha Ekpedekumor, the NDRI noted that the emerging acts of intimidation and blackmail against the acting president were borne out of the fear by some northern politicians that the presidency would elude the region, if Jonathan decided to contest the 2011 elections, even as it dismissed the fear as baseless.
While appealing for caution and restraint from all sections of the country with regard to the prevailing political situation in the country, the group, however, warned that the Niger Delta people would not fold their arms and watch one of their own being blackmailed and humiliated out of office for no just cause.
“As part of their Plan C since the composition of the delegation, they have decided to take the ultimate risk of forcing the man (President Yar’Adua) back, against the advice of the doctors treating him. The acting president is fully aware of the development and I feel for him because he looked disturbed, when he was briefed this morning.
“Here is a man who has shown unflinching loyalty to his boss, but had to take up the responsibility of leadership when the circumstances called for it; now, no matter what he does to keep that loyalty, he will find it difficult to continue to enjoy the confidence of the Yar’Adua family, because they are human beings who would be tempted to distrust him, I think that must have been the reason why he was disturbed.
“Some of us have offered useful advice to him since he assumed office as acting president; we have told him to dissolve the Federal Executive Council and forge ahead in the interest of the nation, because some of those Yar’Adua put in place have seen their positions as ones to be used to promote personal interests. I can bet you that, if the man dissolves the cabinet, heavens will not fall. No one owns this country more than others and that is why some of us are of the view that delaying the dissolution of the cabinet is dangerous for him. Only God knows what he is waiting for, despite the wide international support he has received since he assumed office,” the source, a former northern federal lawmaker, said.
The source spoke with our correspondent as former vice-president and presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the 2007 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, met with Jonathan on Monday night.
The meeting, held at Aguda House, the offical residence of Jonathan, lasted for about three hours, even as details of their discussion remained sketchy at press time.
Falana, others to sue Saudi govt
Foremost lawyer, Femi Falana, has said that he and some civil liberty organisations are set to drag the Saudi Arabian government to the international court over President Yar’Adua.
According to the lawyer while fielding questions from journalists, the Saudi Arabian government had no legal right to prevent Nigerian officials from seeing the president.
He opined that the Saudi authorities were only running away from the implications of holding the country responsible for anything that may happen to the president, hence its plot to shift its responsibility of being in custody of the Nigerian president to the doctors.
Jonathan sends first communication to Senate
The Acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has forwarded the nomination of the board members of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) for confirmation barely two weeks after the resolution of the Senate made him the acting president.
The letter was read by the Senate President, Mr David Mark, at Tuesday’s plenary session.
The letter is written under the seal of the Acting President, who personally signed the correspondence as Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The Senate, however, commended Dr Jonathan for that act through its Spokesman, Ayogu Eze.
According to Eze, “The Acting President has started exercising his powers…and that his first communication was received by the Senate.”
Entitled: Re: Appoint-ment of Chairman and members of the CCB, the letter reads: “Paragraph 1, Part 1A of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution provides that the CCB shall comprise the following: (a) a chairman; and (b) nine other members.
“Each of whom at the time of appointment shall not be less than 50 years of age and subject to the provisions of Section 157 of this Constitution shall vacate this office on attaining the age of 70 years.
“Section 153 (1) of the Constitution also provides that the chairman and members of the Bureau shall be appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate.
“In this connection, there are vacant positions of chairman and eight members of the Bureau.
“I have, therefore, in the exercise of the powers conferred on me by Section 154 (1) of the Constitution, decided to appoint the underlisted as chairman and members of the CCB.”
They are: Sam Saba (Chairman); Ibrahim Manzo; Stephen Bekefula; Habib Elabor; Christiana Ekoja Okwori; Disina Mohammed; Okechukwu Ikechi Nwadinobi and Ademola Adebo as members.
Saba was formerly the CCB Secretary until his elevation.
The Acting President has also forwarded the draft 2010 budget proposal of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the National Assembly for approval.
Jonathan presented the proposal pursuant to Section 299 of the 1999 Constitution. He also expressed hope that the budget proposals would receive expeditious consideration and passage by lawmakers.
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