*Fear losing out in power transition
*Unsure of Jonathan’s next move
By Jide Ajani, Ben Agande, Umoru Henry, Tordue Salem with agency reports
Loyalists of ailing President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, especially those who had held sway since his November 23, 2009 departure to Saudi Arabia, are now fighting what may be termed the battle of a lifetime, following Wednesdayâ€™s assumption of office by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President, while a PDP delegation led by its National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor was billed to see the President last night in his Jeddah hospital.
Also on the queue to see the President, last night, was the delegation from the House of Representatives.
Mr. Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), who was demoted to Special Duties Minister from his former position of Attorney-General of the Federation; Agric Minister, Alhaji Abba Ruma; and the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Tanimu Yakubu are said to have been particularly devastated by the turn of events that they are now gripped by fear of what may come next.
Mr. Aondoakaaâ€™s demotion was one of the first steps taken by the Acting President who, in a January 16, 2010 statement had vowed to sanction â€œkey government officialsâ€, who, in his view, were using the absence of President Yarâ€™Adua from the country to â€œcause acrimony and disunityâ€ with a view to advancing â€œpersonal aggrandizementâ€.
On Wednesday, just 24 hours after the National Assembly vested him with the power of acting President, Dr. Jonathan effected a minor reshuffle, moving Mr. Aondoakaa to the Special Duties Ministry, while Mr. Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) took his place.Â Mr. Kayode was, until then, in charge of Labour.
Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure was moved from Special Duties to Labour.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that Dr. Jonathan was displeased with some of Mr. Aondoakaaâ€™s actions and utterances since the Presidentâ€™s trip which tended to raise tension in the polity in no small measure.
The demotion, sources said, has not gone down well with other government functionaries suspected of collaborating with him
â€œThey have been meeting and strategising on their next moveâ€, one source said.
The Yarâ€™Adua camp, it was gathered, believes that with power now effectively in Dr. Jonathanâ€™s hands, he can come after them anytime, and take some actions to embarrass the group.
Such actions, in their view, include restructuring of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and removal of ministers believed to be Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s die hard loyalists.
Another source said some ministers may voluntarily resign.
Meanwhile, various interest groups have been piling pressure on the acting President.Â The pressure includes calls for him to dissolve the entire cabinet.
â€œWhereas the Acting President is expected to take charge fully. The man has decided that he would do all within his powers to ensure that he does not unnecessarily get himself bogged down by politickingâ€, a source said, adding, â€œA good example was the way he handled the Anambra governorship election by not playing his hands as a partisan leaderâ€.
Ogbulafor, others in Jeddah, billed to see Yarâ€™Adua
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, at the head of a PDP delegation met, yesterday ,with the First Lady, Hajia Turai Yarâ€™Adua and said the President was recuperating and return to the country soon.
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard on phoneÂ Ogbulafor said he was at Ground Hotel, Jeddah near King Abdullah Abdul Azizâ€™s Palace from where, according to him, he would go and see President Yarâ€™Adua in the hospital.
The PDP chairman left the country on Thursday night with the Deputy National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bello Mohammed and the Deputy National Secretary, Dr. Musa Babayo to brief the President on political developments in the country.
The decision to travel was taken at a meeting of the National Working Committee of the party and the leadership of the National Assembly.
â€œWe are meeting with the First Lady tonight (Saturday) and everything is okay with the President.Â We are now at Ground Hotel near the Kingâ€™s Palace. We will leave Saudi tomorrow (Sunday) having met with the President and the First lady. As you know, I am here with the Deputy National Chairman of the party and the Deputy National Secretaryâ€, Prince Ogbulafor said.
Repsâ€™ delegation, Govs too
Also waiting to see the President last night was the delegation from the House of Representatives.
Although, Sahara Reporters said earlier in the day that the delegation was denied access to the President and had returned home, leader of delegation and House Minority Leader, Mr. Ali Ndume, said he was still in Jeddah to see the President.
He spoke on phone but quickly disconnected.
A source said the delegation only met Hajia Turai, who told them the President was resting.
Four state governors – Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Rabiu |Dakingari (Kebbi), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) and Gabriel Suswan (Benue) are also in Jeddah and uptill yesterday afternoon had not set eyes on him.
Transfer of power, tonic to revive governance – analysts
Meanwhile, the transfer of power to Dr. Jonathan as acting president is the tonic needed to revive governance in the key oil producer, analysts say.
“The resolution and its endorsement by Nigeria’s key institution effectively ends the crisis around President Umaru Yar’Adua’s extended absence,” said Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, an analyst from the US-based Eurasia Group.
He said crucial government decisions which had been stalled due to the long absence of Yar’Adua will now be attended to by Jonathan.
“It will likely lead to the passage of the… Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the coming weeks… boost the ongoing Niger Delta peace process in the short-term and further consolidate the recent up-tick in Nigerian oil production and export,” he said.
Spio-Garbrah said if passed into law, the PIB, which is still before parliament, will significantly tighten Nigeria’s fiscal regime for the energy sector, but will also make it one of the least investor-friendly in the world.
“With Jonathan now in charge, several pending state matters like the 2010 budget, the amnesty programme, the oil sector and electoral reforms will be given attention,” Debo Adeniran, leader of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, told AFP.
But he warned that Jonathan would need a “strong political will” to enable him to tackle Nigeria’s many socio-political and economic problems.
“He must be ready to take decisions without considering whose ox is gored,” he added.
“Nigerians should be excited that after almost three months of political logjam the right thing has been done at last,” he told AFP, referring to the political turmoil caused by Yar’Adua’s absence.
University of Ibadan political science expert Bayo Okunade said that the power transition offered a way out of the impasse although it came late.
“What happened on Tuesday at the national assembly was borne out of political expediency… a face-saving measure in the circumstance because we ought to have moved much earlier to enable the vice president to assume full presidential powers,” he said.