By Tony Amokeodo, Akin Oyedele, Segun Olatunji and Olusola Fabiyi:
The Nigerian Bar Association on Monday urged Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to sack members of President Umaru Yar‘Adua‘s ‘kitchen cabinet.’
Also, on Monday, the Nigeria Labour Congress cautioned Nigerians against dragging the Armed Forces into politics, as a result of the political crisis thrown up by Yar’Adua’s illness.
The NLC said that rather, Nigerians should organise themselves for better elections and governance from 2011 onwards because the nation’s problems could not be solved by merely replacing ailing President Yar’Adua with Jonathan.
The body also warned Nigerians to be wary of taking advice from foreign governments and countries on issues that were purely domestic.
In the statement, the NBA lent its voice to the growing call for an investigation into the unconstitutional measures taken by aides of the ailing President during his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja in the early hours of Wednesday last week.
According to the statement, “There is the need for the people of this country to know on whose table the buck stops. Reports that the first lady, an unknown personality to our constitution, keeps the President away from even the Acting President, if true, must be condemned.
“The Acting President 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 the state.”
The NBA boss also said that reports in the local and international media on the “commando operation” executed by some individuals while bringing home the ailing president, under the cover of darkness, supported its earlier position on the break in the chain of command in the country.
He said, “Of more serious import is the news of the deployment of troops in the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. Lights were reportedly switched off and the whole airport cordoned off by soldiers.
“The city of Abuja was practically under siege by these men who ostensibly took orders from persons other than the Acting President, who was unaware of the arrival of the President. We demand a full investigation into this illegal act and misuse of the military. Whoever is found to have exceeded his brief must be sanctioned.”
Reacting to the statement credited to the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, concerning the availability of a medical reports on the President‘s state of health, the NBA challenged him to produce the said documents or be made to face appropriate sanctions.
He said, “Now that the spin masters have told the world that the President is back and that he was unable to see the Acting President because of jet lag, we demand that he address the people through a television and radio broadcast.
“We must see him physically to believe that he was the one smuggled in at night by desperate power mongers who hold the country by the jugular.
“His state of health must be such that will not put the affairs of the state in a precarious situation.”
Meanwhile, the NLC Vice-President, Issa Aremu, who also doubles as the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, said at a news conference in Kaduna that Nigerians should avoid addressing the current political crisis engendered by Yar’Adua’s illness in such a manner that the military would feel encouraged to usurp the leadership of the nation.
Aremu warned that the current political crisis in the country should be resolved in a manner that the nation’s democracy would be deepened rather than tread the path that could lead to another imposition of dictatorship on the country.
He argued that rather than agonise, Nigerians should demand electoral reform and the provision of basic infrastructure.
He further kicked against globalising the current political crisis which he described as a domestic issue, adding that the United States and Britain should steer clear of Nigeria’s internal affairs in order not to further heat up the polity.
The NLC leader said, “The country’s political temperature hitherto perceived to have ebbed was further heightened recently. This followed the unorthodox, clearly non-transparent and controversial manner the ailing President Musa Yar’Adua reportedly arrived the country from Saudi Arabia. This unfortunate development further shows that the temporary political solution brokered by the Senate which confers acting Presidency on Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan is temporary and far from resolving the crisis of governance on a sustainable basis.
“Whatever is the resolution of the current crisis of governance, one thing is however clear: Nigerians have shown abiding faith in the democratic process and they must keep it up. The current contestations are worthy manifestations of the strength of democracy. The challenge therefore is to deepen the democratic process.
“It is commendable that the military now appreciates that it is accountable to democratic authority. We must keep our eyes open and say farewell to the military permanently. The resolution of crisis of governance in a democracy calls for more democracy, not less.
“Certainly, Nigeria does not need a step backward to dictatorship. Everything must therefore be done to avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary politicisation of the armed forces. For all its limitations, the current political crisis remains a civilian democratic crisis.
“The crisis can only and must only be resolved democratically. Worldwide, democracy by design dramatises its crisis. Crisis in a democracy could even prove fatal. But the resolution is in deepening democracy, not calling for its termination.”
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