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TRANSFER OF PRESIDENT’S POWER: Why PDP, Govs back down

* Confirm existence of Yar’Adua’s letter to NASS
* Tip Yuguda for VP if…

By Jide Ajani, Gbenga Oke

The political deadlock foisted on the country by the leadership of the PDP and a cabal in the Presidency in the aftermath of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s medical trip to Saudi Arabia appears to be nearing its end after the party and the Governors Forum confirmed at the weekend, the existence of a letter from the President to the National Assembly on his absence from the country.

The cabal, the PDP and the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Alhaji Mohammed Abba-Aji not only fiercely resisted transfer of power to the Vice President, but also denied that the President ever wrote a letter, before his departure to Saudi Arabia, to the National Assembly on his trip and that power be transferred to the Vice President.

But within 24 hours of Wednesday’s memo from the information minister, Professor Dora Akunyili to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, seeking compliance with Section 145 of the Constitution, the polity began to witness twists that were unexpected.

From Left; Sokoto State Governor, Aliyu Wamakko; Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu; Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shemma; Kebbi State Governor, Usman Dakingari and the Kaduna State Governor, Namadi Sambo discussing after the meeting by a delegation of the Governors' Forum and the Vice President at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida.

That is inspite of the fact that Prof. Akunyili’s colleagues in the cabinet shot down her memo which they then rejected outright, and Thursday’s meeting of northern governors in Kaduna where they rejected calls for formal transfer of power to the V-P.

On Friday, the same northern governors moved to Abuja for a meeting of the larger Governors’ Forum.
A strange face at the meeting was Alhaji Abba-Aji, who according to sources, “revealed some information” to the governors which led to a review of the situation on ground.

A source at the meeting told Sunday Vanguard that Abba-Aji  “pleaded passionately that the governors should not make their decision public yet.  He was the one holding them down”.

Sunday Vanguard leant that part of what used to be the concern of the governors in the past regarding a common front centred on pure sentiments.

First was the relationship between President Yar’Adua and some of the state governors when Yar’Adua served as chief executive of Katsina State.

The other had to do with the issue of Yar’Adua’s emergence and ascension to the presidency.
Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Bukola Saraki, former governor of Delta State, James Ibori and a handful of other state governors were instrumental to the ascension of Yar’Adua to the presidency and, therefore, see in the present situation an opportunity to re-assert themselves.

The governors, Sunday Vanguard, gathered then agreed to find an immediate solution, the most important being to “procure” a letter from the President to the NASS as required by the Constitution.

This, sources said, may not be more than “dusting up the original letter” from the President but which was not delivered, which will now be taken to the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the PDP announced on Friday that its national chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor would be leading a delegation of the party to Saudi Arabia, today, to intimate the President with the situation at home and procure a letter to the National Assembly on his medical vacation.
Govs tip Yuguda as V-P
The governors, sources also said, agreed that in the event of the President not being able to resume and Dr. Jonathan becomes President, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State should be Vice President.
He is a son-in-law to the President.

Chairman Governors' Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki with State House Correspondents after the meeting by a delegation of the Governors' Forum and the Vice President at the State House

Governor Yuguda himself is keeping sealed lips on the matter although he told reporters late on Friday in Abuja that the deadlock created by the President long absence would be broken not later than this week.

Said he: “By next week (this week), everything will be alright.
“You will recall that the governors in December at our forum addressed the press on the President’s health.
“We were thinking he would return on time and we must all believe life belongs to God and I’m sure before the President left, he never knew he would be there for more than two weeks.

“It has dragged on for long. At the time he was leaving, he should have spoken to the V-P to act and by that time he was incapacitated to write.

“The Constitution is clear on it.  By next (this) week, the V-P will be acting President and everything will be over.”

The governors had an unscheduled meeting with the V-P in Abuja on Friday after which their chairman, Dr. Bukola

Saraki told reporters: “We associate ourselves with the court ruling that has been given, concerning the President and the Vice President and that we now agreed to meet with the leadership of the National Assembly to urge them to pass a resolution recognising the Vice President as the acting President of the nation”.


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