By Dayo Benson, Political Editor
LAGOSâ€”As uncertainty lingers over President Umaru Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s health and his ability to continue to perform the responsibilities of his office, a group of 19, drawn from the threeNorthern geo-political zones of the country has added its voice to the call that the constitution should be upheld.
The position of the 19 prominent Nigerians from the 19 northern states made up of senators, retired senior military/police officers and other politicians came on the heels of a related call on the president to resign.
According to the group, which included former national chairman of the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party ( PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh (Benue); former Secretary General of Arewa Consultative ForumÂ (ACF), Colonel. Hamid Ali, rtd, ( Bauchi) and Action Congress (AC) National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed (Kwara), in case of any eventuality over the presidentâ€™s health, the constitution must be followed.
Other members were Alhaji Dauda Birmah, OFR, Adamawa ; Abba Kyari, Borno; Senator Haruna Garba, Gombe; Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu, Jigawa; Tom Mataimaki Maiyashi, Kaduna; Senator Rufai Sani Hanga, Kano; Sen. Mamman A. Dan Musa, Katsina; AIG Lawal Bawa (rtd), Kebbi; Clement Baiye, Kogi; Solomon Ewuga, Nasarawa; Mohammed Haruna,Â Niger; General John Temlong (rtd), Plateau; Dr. Abubakar M. Sokoto, Sokoto; Mr. Obadiah Ando, Taraba; Mohammed Bomoi, Yobe and Senator Lawal Shuaibu, Zamfara.
The position which was endorsed by all the 19 read: â€œPublic discussion on the state of health of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua is threatening to degenerate into dangerous dimensions. The Punch newspaper on 28th November 2009, reported unnamed spokesman as saying if Yarâ€™Adua were unable to continue, there is pressure for Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to resign so that David Mark, the Senate President, would take over and organise fresh elections!
Leadership Sunday, in its 29th November 2009 edition also reported some politicians as saying the North (whatever that means!) should rule until 2015. Only in Nigeria would such arrant nonsense make it to the pages of respectable newspapers, considering the potential capacity for destabilisation such views carry.
â€œOur national institutions such as the National Assembly and national/regional NGOs should immediately come out and publicly counter such potentially damaging statements.
â€œWe, the undersigned, wish to state categorically that (God forbid, and we wish him well), in the event the president is unable to continue in office, Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan should immediately be sworn-in as president as provided by Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution. Any other ploy to bypass the constitution will have grave consequences for the evolution, unity and integrity of Nigeria.
â€œConventions and devices such as rotation are strictly non-constitutional and any attempts to becloudÂ issues by mixing political party administrative devices with constitutional imperatives would be unhelpful in the situation we find ourselves.
â€œAll the state institutions should show loyalty to the constitution at all time,â€ the group stated.