By Leke Adeseri, News Editor
LAGOSâ€”MORE than 50 prominent Nigerians across professions and spanning the six geopolitical zones yesterday told ailing President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to resign his office immediately or unconditionally hand over to the Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who keeps pledging his loyalty to Yarâ€™Adua.
Their demand is that Goodluck should complete the current term of office, and conduct the next general elections based on the report of the electoral reform committee headed by Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais.
In a statement titled; â€œPresident Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s health condition and the state of the nation,â€ the eminent citizens who said they were President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s compatriots and a part of his larger Nigerian family sympathized with him. They said he should give his health a priority attention. â€œAt the same time, the need to provide effective governance for this nation of over 150 million people cannot be compromised,â€ they said.
They also declared that; â€œIt is clear to every discerning observer that President Umaru Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s physical condition has had a negative impact on his ability to discharge the functions of the highest office in our nation.
â€œWithin the last few months, he has been unable to attend to crucial affairs of the state at home and abroad and whenever he has found time to do so, his judgment appears impaired by his ill-health.â€
Why they want Yar’Adua out
They buttressed their view with the example of the Presidentâ€™s health condition which has necessitated several medical trips abroad without transmitting to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he was proceeding on vacation or that he was otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office as required by Section 145 of the Constitution.
Other examples they gave were –
President Yarâ€™Adua though invited was unable to attend the United Nations General Assembly for which a private audience had been arranged between him and President Barack Obama for high- level discussions of issues mutually beneficial to Nigeria and the United States because he was in Saudi Arabia to â€˜open a universityâ€™.
It is also common knowledge that the incapacity of the president had affected the implementation of the nationâ€™s budget because he was unable to coordinate the management of the national economy and to preside over the Federal Executive Council in a diligent manner.
In the circumstance, Ministers have routinely flouted the orders of the President and engaged in in-fighting as a direct result in the vacuum in leadership. This was recently embarrassingly exposed to the world with the series of conflicting public statements credited to the Attorney-General and the Chairperson of the EFCC.
This was also exposed when the President disavowed knowledge of a memo to all foreign missions purportedly on his instructions. Furthermore, till date, ministers continue to flout the public instruction of the president that ministers who presented memos at the FEC should stay behind to brief the media.
You may also recall that a battery of doctors complete with their paraphernalia escorted the President to the National Assembly last year to stand by as he delivered the budget and you may also recall that some pundits have revealed that the crisis between the Senate and the House on who should host the budget delivery by the president was contrived to provide an escape for the president who was reportedly physically unable to perform this formal task.
Finally, the current condition of the President has created a dangerous situation whereby no one is in charge of the affairs of the state contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
As responsible and concerned individuals from every part of Nigeria, we call on President Umaru to resign. According to them, the President should immediately choose the honourable option of either:Â â€œresign his office immediately, or if he is confident of his true physical condition, request the Federal Executive Council to pass a resolution pursuant to Section 144 (1) of the Constitution to the effect that the President appears incapable of discharging the functions of his office.
This honourable step will enable the Senate President to appoint a medical panel to confirm the fitness or otherwise of the President to continue in office.
â€œIndeed, the Constitution has rightly envisaged the situation in which the country has found itself…,â€ they said.
Vanguard spoke with some of those listed as signatories.
Chief Olu Falae (Chieftain of Mega Summit Movement and AD Presidential candidate in 1999)
Since he is unable to perform his duties, he should not hold the nation to ransom. That is what we are saying. A medical board should be set up immediately to determine whether he is fit to continue in office or not, because that is what the constitution says.
Ken Nnamani (Former Senate President)
Speaking through his special adviser, Dr. Sam Amadi said, the former Senate President travelled out of the country and he has not seen the statement. â€œThe statement was sent to me to advise the former Senate President on the issue. I did not sign the statement. The proper procedure is to establish how this illness has impaired Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s ability to work, having determined that constitutionally, any other process can be followedâ€.
Uche Onyeagocha (Former member, House of Representatives)
I signed it because I do not think there is any real reason for Yarâ€™Adua to stay in power.
Bamidele Aturu (Lagos lawyer and activist)
I signedfor the country to take its proper shape.
Femi Falana (President, West African Bar Association)
I signed it on the ground that the president is currently being held hostage by those who do not wish him well.
Yinka Odumakin (Publicity Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group)
Sure, I signed, because the country is facing constitution crisis, we should not allow this to go on. There are constitutional provisions for what we should do, we must do that now.
Chief John Oyegun (former Governor, Edo State)
The constitutional provisions should be followed strictly. The National Assembly should do its job if Yarâ€™Adua can no longer perform his duties. The country has to be governed and we should stop playing games.Â The constitution should be adhered to instead of this declaration of a period for prayers.
Alhaji Balarabe Musa (former Governor of Kaduna State)
The call on Yarâ€™Adua to resign is a consensus position, which I identify with. But my own personal position is that the situation is much more serious than just calling for the presidentâ€™s resignation.
This is because calling on him to resign leaves him with the option of rejecting the call. I would rather propose that a medical panel should be set up in line with the provision of Section 144 of the constitution.
They are unpatriotic, says PDP
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the National Legal Adviser of PDP, Chief Olusola Oke, in Abuja, yesterday, the party said that â€œthose who are calling for the presidentâ€™s resignation are unpatriotic. Resignation is a voluntary thing and the President should no be coerced. What Yarâ€™Adua needs now is prayers if at all, night â€“vigil.â€
Adamu Maina Waziri
Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
Adamu Farouk Aliyu
Bashir Idrs Nadabo
Saint George Eke
Count us out!