By Ayodele Adegbuyi, Akeem Oyetunji, Victor Oriola & Kunle Olayeni:
•Acting President angry with Turai • Who is in charge of the country? ask Yoruba Unity Forum, AC
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan is angry with the First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua.
Reason: His ‘innocent’ move to see his boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, to know his state of health in which he would have been briefed by Hajia Yar’Adua on Wednesday, was leaked to the media “and misinterpreted as if he is a weakling”.
“He has therefore resolved to shelve any meeting with the First Lady. Instead, he is now insisting on having a direct and one-on-one communication channel with the President to know his state of health,” said a source last night.
Jonathan’s anger stemmed from the fact that all his efforts to reach Yar’Adua on phone were futile.
“The man (Jonathan) is angry because of the way he is being treated. All his calls were not answered by the President’s aides. The suspicion is that they don’t want to give anything out while answering calls. That is why he has now changed his mind about the decision to see the First Lady,” he said.
Information and Communications Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili, had on Wednesday declared that the Acting President would meet Hajia Yar’Adua to be briefed on the state of health of the President.
“The Acting President felt that the interpretation given to the meeting which was scheduled at his instance to get details about the health of the President could undermine his position.
“He is mindful of the implication of such a meeting if it ever held on the confusion which the return of the President has caused to the polity.
“He has resolved not to take any directive from anybody unless he sees Yar’Adua who is the only one who could direct him,” he said.
In fact, the Special Adviser to Yar’Adua on Media and Publicity, Olusegun Adeniyi, yesterday confirmed that Jonathan has not seen Yar’Adua.
“Yes, the President has arrived and he has not seen him. It is just a matter of courtesy that he will call on the first family”, Adeniyi told State House correspondents.
He also declared that all presidential aides have now recognised Jonathan “as the Acting President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.”
He said Jonathan had summoned a meeting of all presidential aides for today.
Also yesterday, Prof. Akunyili said yesterday that Jonathan “will remain the acting head of state” until the National Assembly reverses a resolution giving him executive powers.”
“He cannot go back to Vice President until the National Assembly reverses their resolution that made him Acting President, which was even supported by the Federal Executive Council and more importantly by most Nigerians,” she said.
In Ikenne, Ogun State, Yoruba leaders, under the aegis of the Yoruba Unity Forum, yesterday deplored the manner in which Yar’Adua was spirited into the country after 93 days of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, which expressed concern over the logjam created by the development, however, called for the appropriate constitutional step to end the visible power play at the centre.
The group, convened by the matriarch of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Yeye Oodua Hannah Idowu Dideolu (HID) Awolowo, noted that “there cannot be a President and Acting President simultaneously in the country.”
In a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting held at the Awolowo, Ikenne residence, the forum described as “most unpatriotic and self centred” the attempts by some people to use Yar’Adua’s ill-health to destabilise the country.
“If the President is fit, he should resume his official duties, but if he is incapacitated, he should be so declared and appropriate constitutional steps be taken to have power transferred to his deputy,” the communiqué, read by Senator Femi Okurounmu, stated.
At the meeting attended by Governor Gbenga Daniel and other representatives of South-West governors, the group amended its name from Yoruba Legacy Forum to the Yoruba Unity Forum, which literally translates to Isokan Yoruba.
Present at the meeting, presided over by Mama Awolowo, were the Deputy Governor of Osun State, Erelu Olusola Obada; her Oyo State counterpart, Hon. Taofeek Arapaja, former Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Agagu, former Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, General Oladipo Diya (rtd), General Tunji Olurin (rtd), former Lagos Deputy Governor, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Chief Ebenezer Babatope and Ogun State Deputy Governor, Alhaja Salmot Badru.
The forum, while welcoming Yar’Adua back into the country, lamented the anomaly of having a President and acting President simultaneously.
The Yoruba leaders also called on their kinsmen at the National Assembly and other public office holders to get themselves organised and join the Yoruba Unity Forum for the protection of the Yoruba interest.
Addressing the gathering, Mama Awolowo said: “Yoruba, as a group, must be united to be able to fight a just cause in the interest of the race and the country. We must bury our hatchets as individuals, groups or as political parties and save the Yoruba race from extinction.”
Also yesterday, the Action Congress (AC) sought clarification on who, indeed, is in charge of the country, following several disturbing developments since Yar’Adua’s return on Wednesday.
In a statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said while the Presidency referred to Jonathan as Vice-President in the statement in which it said he would continue to “oversee the affairs of state”, another statement issued from Jonathan’s office a few hours later referred to him as Acting President.
The party said: “The Presidency statement, signed by Olusegun Adeniyi, pointedly avoided any reference to Jonathan as Acting President. The implication could be that he is not recognised as such, and that the Presidency statement is being taken as the communication required for President Yar’Adua to return to his job.
“If that is the case, Dr. Jonathan can only carry out functions assigned to him by President Yar’Adua, meaning Nigeria is back to square one since President Yar’Adua, though back, cannot yet perform the functions of his office due to his continuing ill-health and Dr. Jonathan would have lost executive powers! Nigerians would, therefore, like to know whether overseeing the affairs of state is the same as wielding executive powers.”
The AC said other questions raised by the unannounced return of the President are: “Why was Dr. Jonathan not informed of the President’s impending return? Who authorised the deployment of troops for the return? If, indeed, Dr. Jonathan was the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as at the time of President Yar’Adua’s return, how could the troops be deployed without his knowledge?
“And did the deployment of the troops without his knowledge not constitute a serious breach of national security, or can a country have two Commanders-in-Chief at the same time?
“Also, why has it become impossible for the Acting President to see the President since his return, at least, as at Wednesday evening, he (Acting President) was only scheduled to meet with the First Lady? And where, indeed, is the President since no one has yet come out to say he or she has seen him since his reported return?”
Warning about the dangers of surreptitious and denigrating actions that could endanger the peace and stability of the country, the AC said that the President’s return should not be used to destabilise the polity by the same “provincial cabal” that held the country by the jugular, while the Yar’Adua was away.
The party said it also joined millions of Nigerians in wishing the President a quick recovery and congratulated him on his discharge from the hospital after three months of treatment.
It, however, said the President should try to write his name in gold by not hesitating to step aside, if he realises that his state of health is too fragile to allow him shoulder the heavy burden of running the country.
“We also repeat our earlier demand that the President, as the father of the nation, should address the country on local radio and television stations to enable the citizens to assess his state of health, which has continued to be shrouded in secrecy,” the AC insisted.
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