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Author Name: Mobolaji E. Aluko
Number of articles: 33
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Nigeria: Now that Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is Acting President.....
Author: Mobolaji E. Aluko | February 16, 2010

Dear Compatriots: Now that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been un-constitutionally made the acting president of Nigeria through sleight-of-hand (see newspaper report in Appendix below): 1. he should not look over his shoulders: President Umar Musa Yar'Adua is not coming back as President, period. I write this because any information that made ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo (UMYA's principal), ex-Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim and his 41-person group, and all those former heads of state and current state governors - not a "radical bunch" as Obama would say like (for example) the crusading Bakare/Soyinka's Save Nigeria Group (SNG), the National Bar Association, or the activist lawyer Femi Falana, etc. - to go rushing to the Vice-President's side in droves urging him to become Acting President, must be pretty damning. Yar'Adua must be in no physical or mental shape to return any time soon, and his condition must be frightening not to be able to even show a still picture of him despite all urgings, not to talk of a video-clip. The authenticity of both the Supplementary Budget signature in December and BBC in January is now even in serious doubt. So I strongly believe that Jonathan will be Acting President until May 2011 if Yar'Adua lives till then, or will become substantive President in the event that the unfortunate happens, whereupon he will have to carefully choose a Vice-President from the Northern part of Nigeria. A returnee president, miracle permitting, will certainly need time to recuperate, and time to re-acquaint himself both with his own ministers and with the problems of the country. 2. he should as a matter of urgency write a letter to the Senate President David Mark and Speaker of the House Dimeji Bankole to fulfil Section 145. The resolution by the National Assembly to proclaim Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President based on the local print media publication of Yar'Adua's 2-minute is too disingenuous to enter into Nigeria's political law-making annals. Furthermore, a resolution does not have a force of law, no matter the casuistry. However, Jonathan can ATTEMPT to correct this anomaly simply by writing a letter to Senate President David Mark and Speaker of the House Dimeji Bankole granting President Yar'Adua retroactive leave of absence to take care of his health since November 23, 2010, explaining the "uncommon circumstances" which caused the delay, and simply invoke Section 145 thereby without ever referring to the BBC interview. His letter would not require any new or further National Assembly or Federal Executive action, and might read as follows. "I hereby write to inform you as Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that effective November 23, 2009, the President, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar'Adua proceeded on an un-scheduled medical leave of absence to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to take care of his serious medical condition, which has been diagnosed as acute pericarditis among other complications. The emergency conditions under which he left the country, and his health condition since, did not and have not permitted him to transmit a letter under his own signature, hence my unusual and unprecedented move to do so on his behalf without any fear of contradiction from him that he would have delegated me to do so consistent with my role as Vice-President under the Constitution of Nigerian 1999 . Effective immediately (February xx, 2010), and noting that the President is also now "unable to discharge the functions of his office", I therefore assume the role of Acting President [and all the powers thereto, including Commander-in-Chief] consistent with Section 145 of the same constitution, until such a time that the President returns and makes "a written declaration to the contrary", whereupon I will cease my Acting President role immediately. I am passing the same information to the Chief Justice of the Federation, and I trust that you will inform all the members of the National Assembly accordingly. This letter will be gazetted and I will also make an official address on it notifying the nation. Accept my very best wishes, and kindly join me and the nation in offering fervent prayers for the quick recovery of the President's health." 3. he should under no circumstances support the impeachment or move towards the permanent incapacitation certification of President Yar'Adua. Despite pressures, Jonathan should let nature takes its course in terms of President Yar'Adua. He should not be involved in any move that makes his own acting Presidency position to become permanent, either through presidential impeachment (Section 146) - which would be insensitive - or through medical certification of permanent incapacity (Section 144) which, even if true, would appear to be self-serving. Decency demands that he refrain from such moves, and he should continue to urge national prayers for the president. 4. he should not dissolve the Federal Cabinet just yet, if at all. Jonathan should give the current ministers the benefit of the doubt that the vibrancy or lack thereof of the sickly president has hitherto contributed to their lack of effectiveness as generally perceived by Nigerians. So rather than terminate their services - unless any one of them resigns voluntarily - Jonathan should prepare to re-shuffle the ministers as follows: (a). he should ask each minister to submit to him by the end of a time certain, preferably within a week: (i) what he or she has achieved in his or her ministry within the past six months; and any impediments; (ii) what he intends to achieve within the next six months, and the financial and personnel material needed to do so (iii) what BRIEF ideas he or she has so for ONE OTHER MINISTRY other than his or her own; (iv) name (without details) a third ministry that he might wish to serve in in addition to the present one he is in and the one in (iii) above. (v) name one ministry that he or she definitely does NOT wish to serve in in case there is a re-shufflement. (b). since Jonathan has had much time to study the ministers, even more so than the episodically absent - and now virtually permanently absent - Yar'Adua, he actually knows their capabilities more. He can move them around the three ministries that they identified - or among others as he sees fit, within the limitation that he should not put a minister in a post he or she identifies as not wising to serve in. (c). he should choose one of the Northern ministers as a frequent sounding board. Whether that person becomes considered as Ag. Vice-President or not is the speculator's business. Obviously, that person should not be a do-or-die UMYA loyalist, but need not be regarded as an UMYA opponent either. That list of possible top confidants clearly excludes Special Duties Aondoakaa, Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Abba Sayyadi Ruma and the Chief Economic Adviser Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi, but may include Minister of Works Hassan Lawal; the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Adamu Aliero; and even the perennial Minister of Petroleum, Dr Rilwanu Lukman. 5. he should abandon some of PDP's/Yar'Adua's 7-point agenda items. He should pare down Yar'Adua's 7 Point Agenda [Power & Energy, Food Security and Agriculture; Wealth Creation and Employment; Mass Transportation; Land Reform; Security, Qualitative and Functional Education] and Two Special Interests [Niger-Delta and Disadvantaged Groups] and concentrate on Five Priority Areas - Electoral Reform, Security, Power & Fuel, Major-Roads Infrastructure (East-West, North-South routes) and the Niger-Delta. Electoral Reform should really be TOP on his agenda, with a focus on the Uwais Report. He should abandon all constitutional reform not related to electoral reform for later. With regard to security, he could choose investigations into the heinous Dipo Dina murder in Ogun State, and the recent Jos riot in Plateau State as templates for future action. The Amnesty program of the Niger-Delta in all its social and economic ramifications should also be an important focus point. 6. he should return to weekly Wednesday Cabinet meetings, discontinue the weekly post-meeting ministerial briefings, and institute weekly addresses to the nation. When Yar'Adua began his presidential tenure, he changed Obasanjo's weekly Wednesday cabinet meetings to bi-weekly meetings, signalling some now infamous "slowing-down" right from the beginning. But there is now much work to do, and Jonathan might want to return to weekly meetings. However nothing showed more the profligacy of the Obasanjo regime - or its continuation in the Yar'Adua regime - than the weekly cataloguing by ministerial briefings immediately following these weekly meetings of billions and billions of naira contracts awarded for roads, dams, electricity, etc., contracts that nobody in the country saw their impacts. One wondered whether that was all that was discussed at these meetings - sharing of money. Instead of the weekly ministerial briefings therefore, Jonathan should give brief weekly "national updates" on one or more of his new Five-Point Priority Areas, in addition to any national or international updates that he might wish to give to the nation, including on the health of President Yar'Adua. 7. he should give an early indication whether he is running for President in 2011 or not. This will be his trickiest challenge - politico-ethnic balancing within his own party, which unfortunately impinges on the whole nation through an informal rotational North-South zoning agreement that has no constitutional basis. Jonathan should emphasize that this is still a Yar'Adua presidency until otherwise stated, and that an eight-year presidency for any one incumbent has never been assured in the Constitution of Nigeria. Nevertheless, while between October and December 2010, the political dynamics will become clearer, it is advisable that by July or August, Jonathan should telegraph his political ambitions for 2011 to the nation. 8. he should continue to seek God's guidance, receive more goodluck and exercise patience. Jonathan's life moves from deputy class monitor to assistant university lecturer to deputy governor to governor to Vice-President to Acting President appears charmed, with a healthy dose of God's favor, goodluck (no pun intended) and patience. He needs now more than ever both Prayers and Patience - and he has the latter in his Acting First Lady. And there you have it. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- APPENDIX GUARDIAN February 14, 2010 Jonathan's Installation Now Backed By Law From Alifa Daniel (Asst. Political Editor, Abuja) ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan has had his elevation backed by "a force of law." This is sequel to a letter that was sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, from the National Assembly. The Assembly exalted Vice President Jonathan to Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation on Tuesday. The contents of the National Assembly letter were expected to be conveyed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ignatius Katsina-Alu, the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) and the Acting President. The letter, which a legislative source said is tantamount to a law being passed by the National Assembly, is referenced NASS/C5/R/05/III/92 and dated February 10, 2010. It came from the Clerk of the National Assembly (CAN), Mr. Yemi Ogunyomi, to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Titled, 'State Of The Nation And The Way Forward - National Assembly Resolutions, Of 9th, February, 2010', it reads in full: "On Tuesday 9 February, 2010, the Senate and House of Representatives adopted Resolutions on the State of the Nation occasioned by the prolonged medical holidays of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency, Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. "Members of the National Assembly noted that Nigerians fervently prayed for the speedy recovery of Mr. President and his early return to Nigeria. "However, on 12 January 2010, Mr. President informed Nigerians through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), that he was receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, and would only return to Nigeria to resume his functions as President when his doctors so certify. "Satisfied that this declaration by Mr. President amounts to substantial compliance with the provision of Section 145 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, the National Assembly resolved that: (i) the Vice President, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, shall henceforth discharge the functions of the Office of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation as Acting President; and (ii) the Vice President shall cease to discharge the functions of the Office of the President when the President, Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in writing, that he has returned from his medical vacation. "Kindly convey these National Assembly Resolutions to His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Chief Justice of the Federation for his information, and Members of the Federal Executive Council for compliance. "Find attached hereto, the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate and the House of Representatives in this regard, please. "Accept the assurances of my highest regards for your office." A knowledgeable source said last week that because the resolutions of both Houses of the National Assembly were similar, it could pass of as a law and be tendered as such. The source said: "Perhaps unknown to both Houses, that is the way to give a force of law to their resolutions. Pass the same resolution and it has the same force as a law. "But when you pass resolutions intermittently and they are not similar, the other arms of government can afford to ignore them and nothing will be done."

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