By Tunde Abatan:

Decision to back off plan to impeach or declare President Umaru Yar’Adua incapacitated was dropped after his loyalists struck a deal allowing Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to run the government without the cabal throwing any hitch in his way, it emerged at the weekend.

The idea of the all-important deal with Jonathan arose following fears entertained by loyalists of the ailing President that his deputy had started taking steps that were inconsistent with their thinking as regards how to unlock the political gridlock which the country was facing as a result of Yar’Adua’s sickness.

For instance, it was learnt that the recent visit of the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the former United States President, George Bush as well as the former U.S. Secretary of States, Condollizza Rice at a time the country was craving for internal means of solving its political crisis was allegedly orchestrated by the Acting President and his advisers, aimed at scoring some cheap political goals and against the ailing President.

Sunday Independent gathered that the foreign Affairs Minister, Ojo Maduekwe was fully involved in the plan to bring the former foreign leaders to Nigeria just as it was learnt that the cost of bringing them was borne by the government even though the officials hid under the awards organised by a national newspaper.

Sources claimed that the Acting President also had the intention of relieving the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Faraida Waziri of her job among other plans, a situation that jolted Yar’Adua’s loyalists and made them to seek for ways of protecting their political interest.

Sunday Independent learnt that the deal was struck at a meeting the cabal held with National Assembly (NASS) top guns, Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) representatives, some top shots of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and representatives of the Governors Forum where the President’s men also got the duo (NASS and EXCOF) to pledge that Yar’Adua would neither be impeached nor be declared incapacitated.

An agreement that Jonathan would neither hurt their interests nor seek vendetta against persons suspected to be loyal to the ailing President was also reached.

That partly informs why the EXCOF may not be dissolved for now, Sunday Independent reliably gathered from sources privy to the parley that held on Monday night–a day to NASS plenary and 48 hours to the EXCOF meeting last Wednesday which was expected to take tougher stance against Yar’Adua.

Rather than take steps to end the Yar’Adua Presidency, EXCOF instead, agreed to keep the issue off the table and warned members, particularly vocal Information and Communication Minister, Dora Akunyili, to stop commenting on the topics of Mr. President’s health. Jonathan himself toed a similar line at the end of the day.

The EXCOF also did not discuss the report of its six-man delegation which mission to Saudi Arabia was rendered “irrelevant” by the controversial arrival of Yar’Adua on the night the delegation arrived the Kingdom. They were told the President was already air-borne when their flight touched down in Jeddah.

Yar’Adua has not been seen in public since he returned in an air ambulance from Saudi Arabia on February 27, exactly 93 days after he jetted out to the Kingdom on November 23, 2009 where he underwent medical treatment for what his doctors call acute pericaditis.

In a deal analysts call “a win-win situation,” the cabal agreed to lie low and not heat up the polity while Jonathan also governs without harming their interests, sending anti-graft agencies after them, or sponsoring covert moves to oust the sick President so he (Jonathan) could emerge substantive President.

Part of what the parties–cabal, PDP chieftains, Governor’s Representatives, EXCOF members and NASS leaders–also discussed was the fate of former Kebbi Governor, Adamu Aliero, Yar’Adu’s sons-in-law–Saidu Dakingari (Kebbi) and Isa Yuguda (Bauchi)- all Yar’Adua’s men, should the President agree to resign without being declared incapacitated.

Sources said NASS leaders pledged to shoot down any motion to debate the health of the President, as well as entertain whatever Bills emanating from the Office of the Acting President to avoid questions about any power vacuum.

They agreed to these on firm agreement after the cabal ruled out working to frustrate Jonathan’s presidency.

The meeting, sources also revealed, enabled NASS leaders who had long toed different paths on the leadership vacuum to resolve their differences and work in unison to calm frayed nerves.

The parley also informs a decision by some members of the House of Representatives to drop the plot to impeach Bankole, who, critics believe worked against all efforts to remove Yar’Adua in the thick of the crisis. The decision, sources said, was to avoid hitting up the polity.

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