From Yusuf Alli and Dele Anofi:
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, setting agenda for him.
He would like Jonathan to pay attention to electoral reform, peace in Niger Delta, the anti-corruption battle and the fight against global terrorism.
In a February 26 letter obtained yesterday in Abuja, Brown said he is looking forward to a meeting soon with the Acting President.
The letter reads: “I am writing to congratulate you on taking up your new role as Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“As you know we firmly believe that principles of abiding by the constitution, together with democratic values, non-violence and the rule of law are fundamental to resolving political and constitutional issues. I commend the efforts made by the Executive Council of the Federation, the National Assembly and the Executive to promote a peaceful and democratic solution to the recent uncertainty.
“The UK has long been a committed friend and partner of Nigeria and have continued to give strong and constructive support during the recent difficult weeks. I welcome the commitments you made in your address to the nation and would strongly support you on the need for electoral reform and democratisation, tackling corruption and bringing peace and stability to the Nigeria Delta.
“We face joint challengers internationally, including in the fight against global terrorism. We remain committed to help you tackle poverty and make real progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). I hope we can work together on these and other issues.
“I also look forward to working with you closely on the UN Security Council. We hope that you will be able to support strong UN action in response to Iran’s failure to address international concerns over its nuclear programme and its breach of five United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs).
“We remain committed to help you tackle poverty and make real progress towards the MDGs, in particular I hope we can work together to support the 1-Goal campaign and education for all in advancement of the South African World Cup this year. I hope we can work together on these and other issues.
“We extend wishes for President Yar’Adua’s recovery and I look forward to meeting you in the not too distant future.”
Also at the weekend in Abuja, the Nigerian Army (NA) Headquarters defended the Commander, Guards Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Abdul Mustapha, over the deployment of troops to the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport early Wednesday morning, Abuja when the President Yar’Adua returned to Nigeria.
The army said the deployment was a routine that needed no directive from any higher authority other than that of the Guards Brigade Commander.
Two truckloads of members of the Guards Brigade mounted guard on airport road and at the presidential wing of the airport during the return of President Yar’Adua after 93 days in Saudi Arabia.
The Army and the Guards Brigade Commander have both come under attack over the deployment which, many alleged, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan knew nothing about.
Director of Defence Information (DDI) Colonel Mohammed Yerima said “the deployment has nothing to do with the Defence Headquarters (DHQ)”.
The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, told The Nation on the telephone yesterday that “the deployment was a routine”.
He said: “I have said it several times but I don’t mind explaining it again, though very often I’m quoted out of context. The GB deployment, to the best of my understanding, is a routine.
“What is routine? It is the duty of the Guards Brigade. Just like me, I don’t need permission or any one’s authority to go to the office daily. As a matter of routine, I must report to the office daily. If the Guards Brigade has any information that any President is visiting, they have to deploy to the field.
“Because it is what we expect them to do, it is a normal duty they have to carry out.
“It is just because of the circumstance. People just want to whip up sentiments. If it were to be that the Guards Brigade troops were deployed for war, then we can say they have done something strange,” Gen. Olukolade said.
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