By Olusola Sanni, Akeem Oyetunji and Godwin Isenyi:
•Northern group calls for sack of Army chiefs
The Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on Friday read the riot act to officials of the Presidency, telling them that anyone who was not prepared to “cooperate with the current situation of things in the Presidency should pack out of the Presidential Villa.”
Jonathan, during a meeting with officials of the Presidency on Friday, also said that henceforth, officials in the office of the President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, and those in his office must harmonise their operations, the Nigerian Compass also reliably learnt.
Jonathan also announced the merging of the office of Yar’Adua’s Principal Private Secretary, David Edevbie, with that of his counterpart in his own office, Dr. Mike Ogiadome.
The source, who was present at the meeting, told the Nigerian Compass that Jonathan also issued a stern warning to members of Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet to either accept the new code of operation in the Presidency or opt out.
The Nigerian Compass reliably gathered that the meeting, which started late on Friday, was the first Jonathan would be having with Presidency officials since he became the Acting President.
A source, an official of the Presidency, told our correspondent on Saturday that the warning from Jonathan was to preempt a plot by some close loyalists of Yar’Adua to reduce the Acting President to a figure head, by making pronouncements on behalf of the President through press statements.
The source said, “There was a plot by some people in the Presidency to exercise presidential powers by proxy.
“The plot was leaked to the Acting President and that was why he called the meeting.
“A major decision taken at the meeting was the harmonisation of the operations of officials of both the office of the President and the office of the Vice-President, which technically makes it impossible for anyone to claim the authority of the President in issuing press releases.”
Facts have also emerged on why some close aides of Yar’Adua eventually agreed to play by Jonathan’s rules.
A source in the Presidency told the Nigerian Compass that the aides got wind of Jonathan’s plan to relieve them of their appointments as the picture is getting clearer that Yar’Adua might be declared incapacitated by the National Assembly this week.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Olusegun Adeniyi, who had earlier referred to Jonathan as the vice-president on Wednesday made a u-turn on Thursday while speaking with State House correspondents.
During the interaction, he pledged the loyalty of the presidential aides to Jonathan.
Adeniyi was quoted to have said, “We run one Presidency and the Acting President has already called for a meeting and I believe the meeting will hold tomorrow (Friday) to brief us on how things will go and how he will run the Presidency and everybody is included, especially those who just returned from Saudi Arabia.
“So it’s just one Presidency and we are all under Dr. Jonathan now as the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief until the President returns to office fully.”
Apart from preventing Jonathan from seeing their boss, aides of Yar’Adua, also on the alleged instruction of the First Lady, Hajiya Turai Yar’Adua, prevented the Acting President from holding the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, thus creating confusion in the Villa.
A source said, “The Acting President is a very patient and civilised person.
“But that does not mean he’s stupid and timid.
“His civility does not mean he could be manipulated and pushed around by those who feel they have the ears of the President.
“The manner in which the so-called President’s aides conducted themselves on the day the President was brought back into the country was uncalled for.
“It was as if the Acting President was nobody, forgetting that the representatives of the people, the lawmakers, empowered him to act with full presidential powers in the absence of his boss.
“Honestly, the truth is that they are now jittery and just trying to face the hard reality that the game is up.
“And that is why they (President’s aides) are telling you guys (journalists) that the Acting President will meet with them to chart how they are going to work together.”
Sources in the Presidency said that Jonathan is still disturbed by the deployment of troops on the eve of the arrival of Yar’Adua without his knowledge and those of the service chiefs and has consequently caused an investigation into the development.
Reacting to the deployment of troops without Jonathan’s consent, Christians in the North on Saturday demanded the removal of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahaman Danbazau, and the Commander, Brigade of Guard.
In addition, they accused the duo of treasonable felony over the deployment of troops along major roads in Abuja without the prior knowledge of Jonathan.
The Christians, under the aegis of the Christian Elders Forum of Northern States (NOSCEF), said that the deployment of troops without the knowledge of the Acting president was an offence against the state.
NOSCEF, in a communiqué at the end of its meeting in Kaduna on Saturday and signed by its Chairman, Evangelist Matthew Owojaiye, and Publicity Secretary, Mordecai Ibrahim, also frowned at the manner in which the health condition of Yar’Adua is being treated by his aides.
Besides, they demanded to know from Adeniyi who authorised him to issue a statement expressing Yar’Adua’s appreciation to Nigerians.
They argued that the health of the President should not be treated along religious or ethnic lines, adding, “The constitutional logjam arising from the ill health of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is not a religious one, neither is it a tribal or party affair.
“We therefore appreciate the fact that Nigeria is able to rise above such sentiments. We thus congratulate Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on his assuming office as the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“NOSCEF seriously frowns at the way the illness of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is being handled secretly. Sickness is not an offence. President Yar’Adua is not a private individual, he is a public figure; he is our president. We are therefore entitled to know his state of health.
“NOSCEF highly and outrightly condemns the act of the self-serving cabal that have continued to prevent our leaders, including Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, senators and ministers of the Federal Republic from seeing the ailing President. This cabal has and continues to cause our nation great embarrassment.
“Now that it is claimed that President Yar’Adua is back in the country, it is important that he addresses the nation.
“Henceforth, NOSCEF demands unhindered access for our national leaders such as the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Senate President, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to see President Yar’Adua so as to dispel the rumour going round that he is not in the country.
“NOSCEF demands for the immediate probing of who ordered for the deployment of troops to the airport prior to the purported arrival of President Yar’Adua without the knowledge and consent of the Acting President. This amounts to treason. NOSCEF therefore calls for the immediate removal of the Brigade of Guards Commander and Lt. Gen Abdurahamn B. Danbazau as Chief of Army Staff.”
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