From NOSIKE OGBUENYI:

There were indications yesterday that the last has not been heard about ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Acting President Goodluck Jonathan as a group of pro-constitution lawmakers and civil society groups, including the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) are said to be spoiling for a showdown to ensure that section 144 of the 1999 Constitution dealing with incapacitation of the president or vice president is fully explored.

Also members of the National Interest Group (NIG) in the Senate and the House of Representatives and the SNG met separately Wednesday night and resolved to ensure that nobody or group sweeps the Constitution and national interest under the carpet to protect President Yar’Adua or sectional interest.

Sources gave these hints to Daily Sun yesterday just as more clues emerged as to why the move to declare President Yar’Adua incapacitated in line with the provision of section 144 was foiled by the Governors’ Forum and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the last minute. The sources hinted that they intervened to halt growing negative and divisive sentiments  being spread in a section of the country against the other section. It was also gathered that the move was aimed at stopping incitement of the military by the disgruntled politicians to move against the democratic order.

A source also said some politicians had gone to the extent of collecting signatures from Senators and members of House of Representatives especially those from a particular section of the country against the impeachment of President Yar’Adua. According to the source, the rate at which the forces whipping up sentiments in the north were going was very worrisome to the governors and the PDP leadership, thereby compelling them to make the moves they made on the eve of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

Meanwhile, various civil society groups including the SNG leaders and leaders of some opposition are now converging in Abuja for more meetings to fine-tune strategy on how to address what they perceived as the latest assault on the Constitution and national interest. “This travesty of democracy and coup against the Constitution of the Federal Republic cannot stand. We cannot have two Presidents and Commanders-in-Chief in the country at the same time. It is either Yar’Adua shows up as a healthy man or else be declared unfit and removed totally from office in line with the provisions of section 144. There is no middle way about it,” a Senator, who is a member of the NIG, told Daily Sun on the condition of anonymity last night.

An SNG leader, Alhaji Buba Galadima, yesterday accused the governors and the PDP of promoting illegality and unconstitutionalism. He promised intense action to protect the Constitution and national interest.
It should be recalled that prior to the intervention of the governors and the PDP, there had been so much tension and anxiety in the land ahead of Wednesday’s FEC meeting. It was speculated that the meeting might initiate a process under Section 144 of the Constitution to oust Yar’Adua who had been out of office due to ill-health since November 23, 2009. However, the move to invoke the section was aborted by the state governors.

Speaking through their chairman and Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, they declared that  the status quo in the Presidency must be maintained. Also on Tuesday, the PDP said it would retain its power rotation arrangement in next year’s general elections and produce its presidential candidate from the North. The party’s National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, made the statement. He spoke after a meeting between the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), and the governors at the Kwara Lodge.

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