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Senators move to make Jonathan substantive President

By Emmanuel Aziken
Abuja—Senators belonging to the National Interest Group, NIG, which championed last week’s empowerment of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President are contemplating fresh options to regularise perceived constitutional inadequacies in the resolutions of the National Assembly.

While some radical elements in the group are clamouring for an outright impeachment of President Umaru Yar‘Adua more conservative senators in the group are proposing to fast-track a one line amendment of  Section 145 of the Constitution to achieve the same goal.

The moves in the Senate are coming against determined efforts by some Northern political stakeholders to get one of their own as Vice-President as they are expressing fears that the Ag. President arrangement has totally removed them from the system.

Court actions worry lawmakers

NIG senators, Vanguard learnt, are disturbed by court challenges mounted by some interest groups including a former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Farouk Aliyu, challenging the legality of the two resolutions of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of NIG, Senator Bala Mohammed, confirmed to Vanguard claims of death threats made against him on account of his role in the crisis.

While Mohammed traced the alleged threats to his role in NIG and his political disposition on the affairs of Bauchi State, the acting spokesman of the Senate, Senator Manzo Anthony, condemned the threats as being at odds in a democracy which allows free expression of views.

Radical members of NIG, at a meeting that went into the early evening at Protea Hotel in Abuja, weekend, resolved to adopt Section 143 of the constitution to regularise the enthronement of the Ag. President.

“The court cases are frightening and we are afraid that the peace we think we achieved may have been damaged if the court actions succeed and hence the decision to go back to the impeachment option,” a member of the group said.

”Of course, we are not ignorant of the commendation and popularity of the resolutions, but we do not want to take any chances and that is why we are moving towards impeachment and we are set to consult the lawyers on how to go about it,” it was disclosed.

However, other more conservative senators in the group are outlining other strategies to regularise the enthronement of the Ag. President.

Two of the Senators belonging to the NIG were quick to distance themselves from the impeachment plot saying that they were working on the proposal to fast-track the amendment of Section 145 of the constitution, the legal framework under which Dr. Jonathan was declared as Acting President.

The proposal it was learnt would entail putting a time limit on any medical vacation by the President and give leeway to the National Assembly to step in wherever that time limit is exceeded.

“That proposal seems more acceptable to me and with the understanding we have with the Governors we could get them to fast track the amendment in the State Houses of Assembly,” a more senior and conservative Senator told Vanguard at the weekend.

Under the proposal the Senate and the National Assembly would be made to pass fresh resolutions empowering Dr. Jonathan as Acting President under a firm constitutional framework.

“You know it is part of our resolution to amend section 145,” another Senator said even as he gave insight into another strategy in progress of getting ministers to trigger section 144 of the constitution.

Momentum for fresh action Vanguard learnt is being helped by deep concern in the Northern establishment that the zone is largely underrepresented in the executive arm of government under the Acting President arrangement.

The northern establishment it was learnt was not unmindful of actions that would lead to the enthronement of Jonathan as President and give room for the appointment of a Vice-President from the region.

Meanwhile, the leader of the NIG in the Senate, Senator Bala Mohammed has confirmed death threats against him made by some unidentified persons. Senator Mohammed in a telephone interview said the death threats were conveyed to him through his mobile telephone a development that seemingly subdued emotions among some Senators belonging to the NIG.

Senator Mohammed while confirming the threats which he said have come in the form of telephone calls said he had decided to maintain a low profile even as he affirmed that his life was in the hands of the Almighty.

While affirming the correctness of the group’s action he said:

”The threats are not by text messages they have been made through voice telephone calls,” he told Vanguard.
The Bauchi born Senator was not categorical on the sources of the threats saying that his suspicions were essentially directed at those opposed to the role of the NIG and to political enemies in his native Bauchi State.

Responding to the death threats, Senator Anthony the acting Senate spokesman said yesterday:
“It is very unfortunate and we condemn all that and the Senate in all sincerity condemns death threats against people who express an opinion and it has no place in a democracy.”


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