•Gives Up On Meeting Yar’Adua
•Northern Govs Pledge Loyalty To Him
•Nigeria Drifting Into State Of Anarchy – NBA
ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday consolidated his hold on power as he appointed a Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) to counsel him on how to meet the expectations of 150 million Nigerians who want stable power and water supply and other necessities of life, including decent education.
The PAC, headed by former Defence Minister, Theophilus Danjuma, will provide alternative inputs into policy in areas such as power, economy, security, infrastructure, social provision, electoral process, and the fight against greed and graft, among others.
A statement issued by Jonathan’s Spokesman, Ima Niboro, said the PAC would evaluate policy implementation and advise on areas requiring adjustments, as well as suggest how to maximise the benefits from government’s efforts.
It will also advise on such actions and programmes that may improve the credibility and performance of the government, and advise on other matters referred to it by Jonathan.
Other members of the PAC are former Education Minister, Ben Nwabueze (Deputy Chairman); former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Dikko Yusuf; former Commonwealth Secretary General, Emeka Anyaoku; former Justice Minister, Kanu Agabi; former House of Representatives Deputy Speaker, Chibudom Nwuche; and former Chief Justice, Alfa Belgore.
Others are Fola Adeola, Abubakar Gimba, Basil Omiyi, G. B. Preware, Bartholomew Nnaji, Kase Lawal, Muhammed Hayatuddeen; Mobola Johnson, Halita Aliyu, Magaji Danbatta, B. G. Bajoga, Sally Bolujoko, Mariam Uwais, Bamanga Tukur, Ismaila Isa, Shehu Said Sarinwata, and Simon Okolo (Secretary).
The PAC will be inaugurated at the Villa on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Jonathan is expected to chair tomorrow’s meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) during which the report of the six-man team that went to Saudi Arabia on the futile attempt to see President Umaru Yar’Adua will be debated.
The meeting was shelved last Wednesday when Yar’Adua suddenly returned to the country after a three-month medical vacation, and confusion arose over who would chair the meeting.
The confusion was resolved when the Yar’Adua camp, in the face of his obvious incapacity to discharge his duties, accepted Jonathan as Acting President.
However, Jonathan has given up on seeing Yar’Adua in person, having failed to do so on several occasions since his return on February 24.
He has shifted the burden of seeing him to Senate President, David Mark; House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole; National Security Adviser, Sarki Mukhtar; and Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General AbdulRahman Dambazzau.
Jonathan made three attempts to see Yar’Adua within 24 hours of his return, but his close aides blocked access to him. On the fourth attempt, Jonathan, accompanied by his wife, Patience, met with Yar’Adua’s wife, Turai.
Based partly on the inability to see Yar’Adua, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) has warned that the country is drifting into anarchy and implored all stakeholders to take urgent steps to arrest the situation.
NBA President Oluwarotimi Akeredolu issued a statement in which he asked Jonathan to ignore Turai and sack any member of Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet who takes orders from her.
Akeredolu noted that the First Lady has no constitutional role in the affairs of state and she is not in a position to give instructions to Jonathan.
He admonished Nigerians to remain vigilant, because “our politicians are bent on wrecking our collective peace. We must be ready to hold these people responsible if the current experiment fails.
“There is the need for the people of this country to know on whose table the buck stops. The reports that the First Lady, an unknown personality to our Constitution, keeps (Yar’Adua) away from even (Jonathan), if true, must be condemned.
“(Jonathan) must ignore her decidedly and sack any member of the so called kitchen cabinet who receives instructions from her. She has no constitutional role in the affairs of state.”
The NBA insisted that Nigerians must see Yar’Adua physically to believe that he was the one smuggled in at night by the desperate power mongers who hold the country by the jugular, adding that his health must also be such that will not put the country in a precarious situation.
It demanded that if Yar’Adua is truly in the country, he should address Nigerians through a broadcast on radio and television.
Akerdodlu also condemned the deployment of troops in the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja shortly after Ministers left for Saudi Arabia to “express gratitude to the monarch for his hospitality”.
He called for full investigation into “this illegal act and misuse of the military,” and whoever is found to have exceeded his brief must be sanctioned.
“We are not oblivious of the desperation of certain elements that have turned the country into their personal estates. The brazen manner in which these people engage in treasonable acts portends great danger for the current experiment in civil governance.
“We will refrain from commenting on the dire implications which the latest events have on the issue of amity among the geo-political zones in the country for now. We shall, however, not fail to insist that appropriate sanctions must be visited on those directly responsible for the shameful deed.
“The reports in both local and international media on the ‘commando operation’ executed by some individuals in allegedly bringing back the ailing President, under the cover of darkness, support our position on the break in the chain of authority in the country. All stakeholders must take urgent steps to arrest the drift into avoidable anarchy.”
From elsewhere, however, Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, pledged the support of all Northern Governors to Jonathan as Acting President.
He told Ministers and other public office holders, especially those from the North, to desist from deceiving Nigerians on the true health condition of Yar’Adua.
Aliyu, who spoke at the First North Central Forum for Vision 20:2020 implementation plan at Hydro Hotel in Minna on Monday, expressed disgust at the activities of a “cabal” trying to undermine Jonathan and grind Nigeria to a standstill.
His words: “The on-going constitutional crisis is uncalled for because it is mandatory for any Chief Executive embarking on vacation to notify his second in command to take charge.
“When you are going on vacation, you must tell the second in command. We all know that if I was not elected with my Deputy, I would have been disqualified.
“It is shameful for Ministers to use public funds to deceive Nigerians, we must correct this anomaly. Let us understand the issues, so that these self-seeking people will not create problems where there is none.”
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in its own reaction, urged all citizens not to agonise over the political logjam but to organise and defend democracy.
NLC Vice President, Issa Aremu, noted “the unorthodox, clearly non-transparent and controversial manner the ailing (Yar’Adua) reportedly arrived the country from Saudi Arabia,” adding that making Jonathan Acting President “is temporary and far from resolving the crisis of governance on a sustainable basis.”
But, he stressed, whatever is the resolution of the crisis, “Nigerians have shown abiding faith in democratic process and they must keep it up.”
The European Union (EU) welcomed news that Yar’Adua had returned to Nigeria, and urged Jonathan “to foster stability” amid fears of a leadership tussle.
A Spokesman for EU Foreign Affairs Chief, Catherine Ashton, said the EU acknowledges the challenge “posed by uncertainty in the political process” in the country, “and commends the will of the democratic institutions of Nigeria to remain faithful to the principles of democracy, responsible governance, and the rule of law.”
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