By Daniel Idonor:
ABUJA—AS anxiety and confusion persisted in Aso Rock over who presides over Nigeria, the Presidency said, yesterday, that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan will continue to function in the capacity until President Umaru Yar’Adua fully recovered.
As Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, asserted himself on the throne when he ordered the immediate postponement of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, said in a statement: “After being discharged by the team of medical experts overseeing his treatment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua returned to the Presidential Villa, Abuja early this morning (yesterday).
“However, while the President completes his recuperation, Vice President Jonathan will continue to oversee the affairs of state.”
While assuring that the health of President Yar’Adua has greatly improved on account of unceasing prayers of Nigerians and by the special grace of God, the statement said “President Yar’Adua is grateful to the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for competently overseeing the affairs of state in his absence”.
The statement read: “After being discharged by the team of medical experts overseeing his treatment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua returned to the Presidential Villa, Abuja early this morning.
President Yar’Adua wishes to express his profound gratitude to all Nigerians for their prayers for his recovery, their exceptional generosity of spirit and their appreciation of the fact that all mortals are subject to the vagaries of ill-health.
“President Yar’Adua is grateful to the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for competently overseeing the affairs of state in his absence.
“The President also wishes to thank the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the entire membership of the National Assembly, the Governors’ Forum, and the Judiciary, the Armed Forces and other security agencies, former heads of state and other eminent Nigerians for their roles in maintaining order and stability during his absence.
“President Yar’Adua wishes to re-assure all Nigerians that on account of their unceasing prayers and by the special grace of God, his health has greatly improved. However, while the President completes his recuperation, Vice President Jonathan will continue to oversee the affairs of state.”
Jonathan orders postponement of FEC meeting
IN what can best be described as the battle of wits between Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, Jonathan, yesterday, asserted himself on the throne when he ordered the immediate postponement of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, to the astonishment of cabinet members.
Unlike in the last few months when Jonathan’s security personnel had always provided related services during such meetings, security arrangement suddenly changed when the body guards of ailing President Yar’Adua held sway at the Council Chambers, venue of the meeting.
But even as cabinet members began to arrive for the all important meeting, there were no indication that the Acting President was in any hurry to attend it, as he was not in the office and his security officials were not on duty.
High level uncertainty prevailed when cabinet members who had arrived, as usual, for the 10:00am meeting were kept without a word and a sense of direction for over two hours as they sat quietly without their usual throwing of banters.
As a result, ministers and other presidential aides were seen going into the presidential tea room regularly to help themselves out with cups of tea, as they waited endlessly; just as journalists who had had a sleepless night on Tuesday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for the secretive arrival of President Yar’Adua, became anxious.
However, between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m. there was an unannounced departure or redeployment of the security officials from the venue of the meeting as they began to withdraw one after the other, pointing to the fact that the earlier scheduled appearance of Yar’Adua to preside over the FEC, may have given way to another order, as news filtered in that Jonathan was to preside.
The permutation became clearer at noon when the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed and his six-man team, who many thought had not returned to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia; walked to his seat, grabbed the microphone and reeled out a surprise package from Jonathan.
He said: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Acting President has directed that this (FEC) meeting be postponed till further notice. He has asked that you go back to your respective offices. However, there will be a meeting by 2:00 p.m in his conference room. It is mandatory for ministers to attend.”
As the ministers dispersed, some of the pro-Jonathan group members who thought “it was a lost battle” were full of smiles, while those not favourably disposed to the Jonathan presidency, appeared unhappy that Jonathan was still in charge.
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