Written by By Golu Timothy:
What could have been the ninth meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) failed to hold yesterday as Acting President Goodluck Jonathan called it off.
The session is a weekly meeting of the federal cabinet, made up of ministers who take decisions for the country.
This is the second time the acting leader cancelled the meeting, the first being in early February during his second sitting as acting president. It was at the peak of the controversy surrounding the return of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who flew in from Saudi Arabia that day.
The cancellation of that meeting was obviously aimed at staving off any confrontation in which security personnel attached to Yar’Adua’s office took charge with the aim of stopping Jonathan from presiding over the session since their boss was back to the country. However, Yar’Adua did not show up for the meeting while Jonathan later met briefly with ministers in his conference room.
Yesterday’s meeting was initially billed to start by 2:30 p.m. because Jonathan had to personally attend the closing ceremony of an international Conference on Development of Agribusiness and Agroindustries in Africa, held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
As the ministers awaited his arrival for the meeting, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, suddenly appeared with a message from him that the meeting had been cancelled and might be rescheduled for next week.
Ahmed told the bewildered ministers, “Just closing from an international conference on agro-business seminar, coming back to the residence the acting president is equally engaged with other state duties. He has asked me to convey to you that this Executive Council meeting is cancelled. Next week, insha Allah, it will be convened, or any day the acting president deems it fit to reconvene.”
Even though no official reason was given for the meeting, our correspondent gathered that there were only two memos to be discussed.
But a source observed that the cabinet was avoiding to discuss the various problems ailing the country. The source added that the fact that Jonathan does not have a deputy must have contributed to the cancellation of the meeting.
“If the acting president had a vice, he (Jonathan) could have sent him to represent him at the agro-allied seminar while he chaired the EXCOF meeting,” the source said.
However, the cancellation of the meeting came as a relief to most of the ministers, who were uncertain about what could have transpired, in view of speculations of a cabinet change or new appointments.
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