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Jonathan: Winners and Losers

By Emmanuel Aziken

How David Mark navigated several hesitations and constitutional impediments to proclaim Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan as the nation’s number one citizen may be the defining point of the David Mark Senate.

Except something more dramatic befalls the nation in the immediate future, the ingenious Senate resolution empowering Dr. Jonathan as the nation’s Acting President may define the David Mark Senate in the same way that third term defined the Ken Nnamani Senate.

Last Tuesday’s resolution which captured President Umaru Yar‘Adua’s BBC interview as a transmission to the National Assembly of his medical incapacitation may have stretched the limits of reasoning. But it undoubtedly was a definite solution to the constitutional logjam that befell the country.

Remarkably, nearly every one of those who were opposed to the move to empower Jonathan as Acting President seemed to have jumped ship once the momentum became unstoppable at the beginning of the week.

The Senate leader who according to some sources opposed the enthronement of Dr. Jonathan as Acting President was by a stroke of irony the one who sponsored the motion to empower him as the Acting President.

The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Maina Maji Lawan who as opposition leader defied the trend of the opposition was one of those who breakfasted with the Acting President on Thursday morning.

Whatever may have caused Senator Maji Lawan to oppose the motion is yet unclear but it is remarkable that the Senate cast aside regional and religious sentiments to tackle a problem that would have otherwise fractured the very fundamentals of the Nigerian State.

Many Senators privately agree that the resolution may have been unconstitutional but everyone is for now agreed that the tension and embarrassment caused the country by the absence of a leader has now been definitely resolved in almost a constitutional manner.

To the end, one Senator remained unyielding in the face of the near unanimity of the Senate that Dr. Jonathan be empowered as Acting President.

Senator Garba Lado (PDP, Katsina South) who was a local government chairman between 1999 and 2002 and subsequently a member of  the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007 had his stars destined for greater office with Yar‘Adua as President.

He is alleged to have been penciled down as the choice of the Yar‘Adua kitchen cabinet as the replacement for the out of favour Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema.

It was as such not surprising that when the motion to accept the BBC interview as the President’s transmission of his medical vacation was raised in the Senate last Tuesday that Lado vehemently objected. Besides Senator Ibrahim Ida (PDP, Katsina Central) who gave him some little encouragement the majority of Senators were vehemently against him as they shouted him down.

Except the President returns immediately, he is now faced with the daring challenge of keeping his Senate seat in 2011 as the thought of challenging a vengeful Shema for the governorship is all but ruled out without Yar‘Adua.

There are several other Senators who stand to gain where Senator Lado stands to loose with the advent of the Jonathan presidency.

Many of them in the National Interest Group (NIG) which championed the enthronement of Dr. Jonathan as Acting President could have their political careers oiled by the very implication of last Tuesday’s Senate resolution.

Senators Bala Mohammed who is the leader of the NIG from Bauchi State and another colleague from Bauchi, Senator Sulieman Nazif would appreciate the fact that Governor Isa Yuguda would not have the backing of his father in-law as they join forces in the predictable political rumble aimed at uprooting the Governor in 2011.

Senator Ehigie Uzamere, who was a major facilitator of the NIG would be thankful that as he aspires for re-election next year that the suspicion that Chief Anthony Anenih could deny him a return ticket on the PDP platform would be minimized.

His two other colleagues from Edo State Senators Odion Ugbesia and Yisa Braimoh who are close associates of PDP strongman, Chief Anthony Anenih on the contrary are increasingly faced with the harsh reality of trudging along in a dispensation where there is little space for the godfather to fix things for them.

The Bayelsa Senators who with the Acting President had endured the seeming disdain of Governor Timipire Sylva during the Yar‘Adua era would be all smiles.

One of them, Senator Paulker Emmanuel is arguably one of the closest friends of the Vice-President. As a Senator, Senator Paulker had guided and guarded his paths away from controversies he feared could have been traced to hound Dr. Jonathan.

He is now faced with the major challenge of being a reliable counselor to the Acting President who would provide him with the kind of counsel that would leave a memorable legacy of the Jonathan era!


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