….Convenes mandatory meeting with ministers
By Daniel Idonor
IN What can best be described as the battle of wits between Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and ailing President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, Jonathan Wednesday asserted himself on the throne when he ordered the immediate postponement of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, to the astonishment of cabinet members.
Unlike in the last few months when Jonathan security personnel had always provided related services during such meetings, Wednesday security arrangement suddenly changed when the Body Guards, BG, of President Yarâ€™Adua held sway at the Council Chambers, venue of the meeting.
But even as cabinet members began to arrive for the all important meeting, in view of the water-tight security coordinated return of President Yarâ€™Adua from his 90 days sick leave, there were no indication that the Acting President was in hurry to attend, as he was not in the office and his BGs that usual mount his passage to meeting venue were not on duty.
High level uncertainty prevailed when cabinet member who had arrived, as usual, for the 10:00am meeting were kept without a word and a sense of direction for over two hours as they sat quietly without their usual throwing of banter; not even the highly suspicious grouping along either south and north or Muslim and Christianity conveniences.
As a result, Ministers and other presidential aides were however seen going into the presidential tea room regularly to help themselves out with a cup of tea, as they while away time endlessly; just journalists who had had a sleepless night on Tuesday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, waiting for the secretive arrival of President Yarâ€™Adua, became anxious.
However between 11:00 and 11:30 am there was an unannounced departure or redeployment of the BGs from the venue of the meeting as they began to withdraw one after the other, pointing to the fact that the earlier scheduled appearance of Yarâ€™Adua to preside over the FEC, may have given way to another order, as news filtered in that Jonathan is to preside.
This permutation became clearer at exactly few minutes afternoon when the just returned Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed and his six-man team, who many thought had not returned to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia, walked harmlessly into the Venue, headed straight to his seat, grabbed the microphone and reeled out a surprise package from Jonathan.
â€œLadies and gentlemen, the Acting President has directed that this (FEC) meeting be postponed till further notice. He has asked that you go back to your respective offices. However, there will be a meeting by 2:00 pm in his conference room. It is mandatory for ministers to attendâ€, he said.
As Ministers dispersed, pro Jonathan group members who thought “it was a lost battle” were full of smiles, while those not favourably disposed to Jonathan presidency, appeared unhappy in disbeileve that Jonathan is still in charge.