By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor, Ben Agande:
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan will be facing, later this week, what may be termed the first real test of his tenure when the Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by him, is due to receive and act on the report of the committee it raised last week to go to Jeddah with a view to assessing the condition of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua.
The delegation of six is made up of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed and five ministers – Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (Justice); Alhaji Abba Ruma (Agriculture); Chief Ojo Maduekwe (Foreign Affairs); Professor Babatunde Osotimehin (Health) and Dr. Rilwan Lukman (Petroleum Resources).
They are scheduled to depart today and return in time to be able to report back to the cabinet at its next meeting on Wednesday.
Presidency sources hinted Sunday Vanguard, last night, that the committee’s report would largely chart the path to be followed in the days ahead by Dr. Jonathan.
“If the feedback from Jeddah suggests that the acting President can take certain actions that would not be reversed later, we can reasonably expect that far reaching decisions can begin to be taken.
“But if not, then caution will be the watchword”, one source said.
One of the steps that may be taken in the next few days, depending on the report from Saudi Arabia, is another round of cabinet reshuffle “for effective delivery of good governance”.
“We are fast approaching an election year and Jonathan wants to go on record as having delivered. So the report will definitely shape his tenure.
“He (Jonathan) wants to be sure he is on a firm ground before taking certain actions otherwise events in future may prove him to have acted hastily, hence the report of the committee is critical to whatever the man will do”.
In his first day as acting President, Dr. Jonathan demoted the then Attorney-General / Justice Minister, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) to Special Duties Minister; while the Labour Minister, Prince Kayode (SAN) was moved to the Ministry of Justice; and Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure, formerly Minister of Special Duties became Labour Minister.
* Cold war in Presidency
Meanwhile, a cold war is brewing between aides to President Umaru Yar’Adua and those of acting President Goodluck Jonathan, frustrating his (Jonathan’s) initiative to forestall any such development.
The acting President had mandated his Principal Secretary, Mr. Mike Ogiadhome to convene a meeting of presidential aides with a view to working together as a unit.
The first meeting took place on Friday, February 12, and further deliberation was fixed for Monday, February 15.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the second meeting was stalemated after some of President Yar’Adua’s aides insisted on functioning in their current positions.
The effect is that those of Dr. Jonathan with similar functions will become redundant.
A source who was privy to the meeting said ‘the essence of the meeting was to solicit the support of the aides of the President so that the Vice President can succeed. The Vice President believes that since he is acting for the President, it was important for all the staff of the presidency to act in one accord. But some of the president’s aides felt otherwise’
Some of the President’s aides, were said to be unhappy with the way the Acting president has been running the office since he assumed office in that capacity.
One of them said: `immediately after the National Assembly passed the resolution making Dr Jonathan acting President, the paraphernalia of the president’s office such as the national flag and the flags of the armed forces were moved to his office without telling the aides of the president. Why the hurry?’
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