From Madu Onuorah, Alifa Daniel and Azimazi Momoh Jimoh:
From Madu Onuorah, Alifa Daniel and Azimazi Momoh Jimoh:
* Rule out Yar’Adua’s resignation
* ‘Ogbulafor: North should keep Presidency till 2015
* Nnamani, Masari, Tinubu, ask FEC to declare Yar’Adua unfit
* Work begins on next Presidency
In spite of his ill-health and clamour for him to quit, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua will remain the President while Dr. Goodluck Jonathan continues as Acting President. That was the official line taken by all governors after a meeting last night with Acting President Jonathan.
A supposed need to maintain stability and a semblance of retaining the Presidency in the North was certainly the consideration that led to the conclusion last night by the governors to retain this status quo: Yar’Adua is still President while Goodluck Jonathan will be Acting President.
All said, there will be no impeachment of Yar’Adua on account of his ill-health, no declaring him incapacitated and therefore no replacing him until a new President is elected in 2011.
The argument, The Guardian learnt, is that the North which has been tacitly agreed to hold power for eight years would feel short-changed should Yar’Adua’s term be terminated.
Now, work may have begun in earnest to, as The Guardian first exclusively reported a few weeks ago, fast-track the PDP convention and picking a presidential candidate with a view to shifting the nation’s attention to the future or next Presidency from the current contraption.
The development came as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, said that the Northern part of the country deserved to retain the Presidency till 2015.
He made the remark while responding to questions regarding the meeting he held with PDP governors in Abuja yesterday.
The PDP governors had after the meeting of the 36 state helmsmen met with Ogbulafor to brief him of the outcome of the parley at which the status quo was upheld.
Ogbulafor said the meeting discussed the issue of zoning of the Presidency between the North and the South.
“We discussed the issue of zoning. The South has had it for eight years, it is only fair to allow the North to also have it for eight years,” he stated.
On the inability of the Acting President to see Yar’Adua since his return, Ogbulafor said he would do so at the appropriate time.
And as tension mounts over the unconstitutional cover-up on the true state of health of Yar’Adua, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and other eminent Nigerians have challenged the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) to use the opportunity of today’s weekly meeting to invoke Section 144 of the Constitution as a matter of national importance.
They include former Senate President Ken Nnamani, erstwhile House of Representatives Speaker Bello Aminu Masari and a former Lagos State governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The challenge came as the Chief Olu Falae’s Mega Party Movement (MSM) said that the crisis that recently rocked the presidency is a clear indication that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is in shambles and run by puppets noting that the crisis was created by distrust.
The Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), General I.B.M. Haruna, had reportedly blamed the ruling party for failing to find a solution to the saga involving President Yar’Adua’s health.
The state helmsmen who met under the aegis of the Governors’ Forum, declared that the resignation of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is not an option on the cards for resolving the political crisis arising from the ill-health of the President.
Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Timipre Sylva said at the end of the meeting that “the President remains the President while the Acting President remains the Acting President.”
Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr Godswill Akpabio told journalists at the end of the meeting held at the Aguda House, the official residence of the Acting President, that on the issue of the resignation of the President, “we did not discuss that. We noted that the president has returned to the country and we noted the need for him to recuperate and get better soon before he can think of assuming duty. For us, the issue of his resignation is not an option for now. For us, what is important is for us to be compassionate, to be sympathetic and to realise that anybody, no matter highly placed, even if you are a Christian and you are a Pope, can get ill. Thank God he is back now and he is recuperating. And we are satisfied that recovery is on the way. We are praying for him.”
Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr Bukola Saraki said at the meeting, “we congratulated the acting president for stabilising the polity of the country at the moment. And we in return, pledged our support to the acting president during this trying time. We encouraged and said he is doing a good job and that he has the full support of the Governors Forum in this exercise. We agreed to have regular consultations during this period among the Forum. He also educated us on a number of issues, for example on the Presidential Advisory Council that was set up, the reason behind it and other things.
“By and large, we emphasized the need for government to work very hard to ensure that we all play our role to provide leadership at this crucial time and the need to talk to members of government to ensure that some of the comments made are well guided. At the end of the day, we acknowledge what he is doing and appreciate it and we said that the 36 governors will support the acting president for this country to move forward.
“We have expressed that we are happy to see the president back in the country. We have also said we should separate the two issues. The return of the president to the country is an indication that there is progress in his recovery process. And that does not at all deviate from what decision we took as a Forum where we all decided that a political solution to provide a resolution for the Vice President to act as the President. And that is still the position.
“Mr Vice President acting as the President is still the Acting President running this country. And Mr President, we are wishing the President speedy recovery. Our resolution was taken not because Mr President was out of the country. Our decision was taken because the President was ill. And that has not changed.”
Sources also said the Governors may have successfully foreclosed the issue of the incapacitation of President Yar’Adua being brought up at today’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council where there were fears it may be one of the items to be discussed.
Head of the MSM Secretariat, Olawale Okunniyi, was quoted as saying: “The PDP like some other parties in the current democracy, is not a real political party, where party supremacy, discipline and internal democracy reign. Given weak party structure and power of patronage, PDP public officers, also at states levels, impose party leaders and order them around like robots. The result is the clique rule, which presently holds sway in Nigeria.”
CNPP statement yesterday by its spokesman said further: “For the avoidance of doubt, the issue of incapacity of President Yar’Adua to discharge the functions of his office is no more in doubt. For 100 days after his departure and seven days after his purported return to the country, no one, not even the Acting President nor the members of the EXCOF nor his party except the cabal had seen him. Accordingly, we require only 28 ministers out of 42 to pass the resolution, mandating the President of the Senate to set up a medical panel.
“In the midst of unwarranted secrecy and absence of a valid medical report, it is our considered view that Nigerians and friends of Nigeria earnestly demand a medical examination to certify the true state of the health of our dear president; moreso when the personal physician of the president is among the five-man medical panel.
“CNPP commends Prof. Dora Akunyili for her steadfast, courage and resilience against all odds and calls on other ministers to join her crusade to save Nigeria; for we have no other country except Nigeria.
“We salute the EU, USA, UK and friends of Nigeria for their sincere concern over the threat to our democracy and promise them that Nigerians are resolved to sustain and consolidate our democracy.”
On its part, a civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Dr. Salisu Banye, personal physician to President Yar’Adua, asking him to “urgently publish a sworn statement on the medical records of President Yar’Adua to allow the citizens, the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly to decide whether he is capable of continuing to perform his public trust and constitutional responsibility as President; and if he is not, to take appropriate measures to address the situation.”
The group said unless the information is provided “within one week of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, SERAP would take steps to seek the leave of court for an order of mandamus compelling you to exercise your discretion by fully disclosing accurate information about President Yar’Adua’s medical conditions.”
In the letter dated March 2, 2010 and signed by SERAP’s executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group said that, “since his (Yar’Adua) alleged return to the country from Saudi Arabia where he reportedly received medical treatment for months, many high-level government officials have been denied access to President Yar’Adua. There are doubts about his capacity to continue to govern the country but his medical conditions remain shrouded in secrecy.
“We strongly believe that Nigerians have the right to know about the medical conditions of President Yar’Adua. Unlike ordinary citizens who are protected by the rules of doctor-patient confidentiality, high -level government officials like President Yar’Adua whose treatment is being paid for by the tax-payers, cannot hide behind legal rules. Similarly, because President Yar’Adua’s position is that of a trustee, you are obliged, as the President’s personal physician, to provide accurate information about the President’s current medical conditions to Nigerians,” the group added.
Otherwise, SERAP, said, it would be impossible to achieve the citizens’ aim of an open, yet just, and rule of law-based society, which Yar’Adua himself has consistently advocated.
The group therefore asked Banye to:
* urgently publish in major national newspapers and release to the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly a sworn statement on the medical records of President Yar’Adua. Also publish the names of team of medical specialists you mentioned in your report;
* work with other physicians to be drafted by the Federal Executive Council or the National Assembly to determine if the President is capable of continuing in office; and
* publish an in-depth analysis of President Yar’Adua’s treatment, including an assessment whether President Yar’Adua is healthy enough to continue to discharge his public trust and functions.
Also speaking yesterday, erstwhile Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, declared that a mischievous and faceless cabal is clearly exploiting the shaky constitutional basis of the National Assembly resolution empowering Jonathan as Acting President to foist a state of confusion on the country.
In a statement signed by Tinubu’s Chief Press Secretary, Olakunle Abimbola, he said the cabal has over the last three months striven strenuously to make it impossible for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to act as President through due constitutional process, despite the glaring physical incapacitation of his boss. Nothing demonstrates the desperation of this cabal better than the curious evacuation of a still gravely-ill President Yar’Adua back to the country on the very day that the six-man delegation of the Federal Executive Council landed in Saudi Arabia to visit the President.
“An incapacitated President, whom no one has seen in public since his return, has been installed in Aso Rock making nonsense of the National Assembly’s declaration of Jonathan as Acting President. Can Dr. Jonathan effectively play that role when a President he has so far been prevented from seeing is breathing down his neck in Aso Rock through aides purportedly acting on behalf of their invisible boss? This is a perfect recipe for confusion.”
According to Tinubu, because the President has been unable to discharge his responsibilities or even address the nation or resign voluntarily due to his health condition, “the Federal Executive Council must set in motion the necessary constitutional machinery to ascertain the President’s health and urgently declare him incapacitated so that Dr. Jonathan can be sworn in as substantive President in the national interest. That is the patriotic duty they owe the nation.”
Tinubu added: “Let no mistake be made about it. President Yar’Adua has served this country to the best of his ability. He deserves the best treatment with utmost respect both within and outside the country, at continued full state expense, because we can afford it as a country. His wife deserves our empathy for taking such very good care of our country’s No. 1 citizen; a man to whom she has borne seven children and demonstrated exemplary love and loyalty. We must empathise with the poor woman who is only being used as cannon fodder in this matter by a cabal promoting their selfish interest.”
Also making the same call yesterday was the Good Governance Group (3-G) headed by former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, with former Speaker Aminu Bello Masari as member. It called on EXCOF to invoke Section 144 of the Constitution so that the issue of the ailment of President Yar’Adua can be put behind the country.
The statement signed by the organising secretary of 3-G, Salihi Lukman, reads: “The return of President Yar’Adua after more than three months hospitalisation in intensive care in a Saudi Arabian hospital should have brought an end to the lingering crisis of presidential succession in Nigeria. Unfortunately, it did not. In fact, the manner of the President’s return has aggravated the crisis and added a new dimension of security threat.”
According to the group, the manner of President Yar’Adua’s return “betrays bad will and desperation on the part of those managing his affairs, noting that is not President Yar’Adua’s fault that he is ill. There is nothing to be ashamed about his illness, even if he is on life support.”
Lamenting that even after the president’s purported return, he has not been seen in public nor has he addressed the nation, the group declared: “We cannot continue in this game of deceit. The country should not be destroyed by those who refuse to relinquish power. The credible men and women in the Executive Council should do their duty now. Delay is dangerous. Let us express our love and loyalty to President Yar’Adua by commending him to the Lord for his mercies and miracles. Failure of the EXCOF to act leaves us with no option but to call on the Senate to continue from where they stopped and ease him from office.”
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