From LUCKY NWANKWERE:
• The storm is over, says cabinet
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday moved to reconcile members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and reduce tension created by the leadership crisis of the past three months, which was heightened by the hurried return to the country last week of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
At the weekly FEC meeting, which he presided in Abuja, Jonathan reportedly told the ministers who were clearly divided along pro and anti-Yar’Adua to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign in the interest of the country.
Saying enough was enough, Daily Sun gathered that the Acting President told the ministers to realise the position they occupied in the county, pointing out that their utterances on the political situation were over-heating the system as they were being misconstrued as government’s official position.
He was said to have warned the cabinet against seeing what had happened or was still happening as a personal thing, adding every effort was being made to settle the political crisis, which, he pointed out, should be regarded as part of evolution as a democratic country.
The FEC meeting turned out to be the direct opposite of what some people had predicted as there was no mention of President Yar’Adua’s health condition nor was there any heated argument again over the inability of top government functionaries to see the President.
As they filed out of the council chambers at the end of the meeting, the ministers appeared more calm and reassured than they had been, with some of them thanking God and declaring to the hearing of people “the storm is over”.
Briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, said the report of the six-man cabinet delegation to Saudi Arabia was presented to Council, but was not debated. She declined to respond to questions as to why the report was not debated.
At their meeting with Acting President Jonathan on Tuesday night at his official residence in Abuja , the 36 governors reportedly secured his assurance that the issue of President Yar’Adua’s health or his declaration as unfit to continue in office should not form part of the meeting’s agenda. However, the report of the six-man team, which Akunyili made available to newsmen confirmed the inability of the ministers to see Yar’Adua in Saudi Arabia, but said the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal, told the team that the President was recovering from his ailment.
Another major outcome of the FEC meeting was the approval of a contract for the rehabilitation of the Dengi-Jarmai Road in Plateau State for N1.45 billion to be funded from the Ecological Fund and Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
Akunyili also announced the approval of N21.1 billion contract for the reconstruction of Owerri-Elele Road linking Imo and Rivers States as part of the post-amnesty programme aimed at enhancing accessibility and creating employment opportunities. Additional consultancy services for the project were awarded at N469.7 million.
Equally approved was a consultancy services contract for the Obiakpor-Obeng gas pipeline for N236.8 million. It involves project studies and technical surveys, among other technical supervision duties, according to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia.
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