By Muyiwa Adeyemi:
FRESH facts emerged yesterday on how the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has been sharply divided over the powers of the Acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, with 12 them who referred to themselves as Ôwise menÕ wrote a strongly worded memo to the Acting President to maintain the status quo.
The Ôwise menÕ also cautioned the Acting President to avoid any attempt to refer to the current administration as ÔJonathan administration,Õ insisting that it remains ÔYarÕAdua administrationÕ till 2011.
This formed part of the contents of the memo the 12 Ôwise menÕ were said to have submitted to the Acting President on Wednesday before the beginning of the Council meeting.
They also advised the Acting President against dissolving the cabinet and reasoned that since the ailing President Umaru YarÕAdua is in the country, the Acting President does not have the power to either dissolve the cabinet or tamper with the office of the Service Chiefs.
According to them, Òany attempt to move against the existing structure will fail”. They advised him not to see himself Òrunning a new presidency”.
The memo also warned of the grave dangers ahead if the Acting President should make moves to become a substantive president. Such moves, they reasoned Òwill fail”, and heat up the polity.
The ministers were said to have earlier met at the office of the Defence Minister, Gen Godwin Abbe (rtd) to fine tune their position. They also frowned at the composition of the Presidential Advisory Council headed by Gen T. Y Dajuma without consulting them and the Presidential Monitoring Committee on Federal Projects which they see as a threat to deal with the ministers who are not allied with the ambition of the Acting President.
They were also said to have met some governors who reasoned along with them for what a source called Òtheir political survival strategy.”
The source said the search light on the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources where projects worth N30 billion are being investigated was part of their major fears.
ÒIt was not surprising that the position of the governorsÕ when they met with the Acting President on Wednesday was not entirely different from some of the contents of the memo which the ministers had earlier submitted to the Acting President,” the source said.
The 12 Ôwise menÕ include, Senator Adamu Aliero, Dr Ibrahim Lame, Demola Seriki, Rilwan Lukman, Shetimma Mustapha, Shamsideen Usman and Chief Ufot Ekaette.
Others are Gen Godwin Abbe (rtd), Sam Egwu, Dr S. Abba Ruma, Prof Babatunde Osotimehin and Taminu Kurfi.
But other members of the cabinet were said to have faulted with the memo and reasoned that it was an attempt to remove all executive powers from the Acting President and make him a lame duck executive officer.
ÒThe Acting President should not be made a lame duck; he has the powers to exercise all the executive functions including dissolution of the cabinet and do whatever he feels will move the country forward,” they said.
Some of the cabinet members who spoke to defend full executive powers for the Acting President include the Secretary to the Federal Government, Yayale Ahmed, Ojo Maduekwe, Godsday Orubebe, Remi Babalola and Dora Akunyili.
A source close to the presidency said: ÒThe resolution given by the 12 Ôwise menÕ is an affront to the Acting President. Nigerians should be curious as to what gives them the courage to do this against constituted authority. Should the sanctity and respect of the constitution bow to self-serving interests that have not achieved any tangibles for the ordinary man on the street?”
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