By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Isyaku Ibrahim was a member of Nigeriaâ€™s parliament in the early 1960s, before the nationâ€™s first military coup. He was a founding member of the PDP, and was on its Board of Trustees, as national deputy chairman.
In 1999, he backed Alex Ekwueme for the PDP presidential nominationÂ but Ekweume lost out to Olusegun Obasanjo. Ibrahim switched to supporting Obasanjo, who won the nomination and election. However, he was an arch critic ofÂ Obasanjoâ€™s regimeÂ for its lack ofÂ respect for the rule of lawÂ and when Yarâ€™Adua took over in 2007, he said that although Umaru Yarâ€™Adua has taken over as President, Obasanjo is still â€œthe de facto ruler of Nigeriaâ€.
In this encounter, the former Deputy National Chairman (Finance), Board of Trustees ofÂ PDP,Â answers questions on the resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives on the VP as Acting President. Excerpts:
The National Assemblyâ€™s resolution that Vice President Goodluck Jonathan becomes the Acting President using the interview President Yarâ€™Adua granted BBC as a basis has been generating constitutional debate. What do you think?
It is a beautiful development.
We hope that Goodluck Jonathan during the short time he will act as President will make sure things go properly. We congratulate the National Assembly, at least they have come out to perform their duties. As Acting President, now Jonathan can talk to Obama of the United States, and Gordon Brown of Britain because Nigeria has a leadership now.
I have said this as far back as 20th December 2009 that there shouldnâ€™t be a vacuum. Few people in the Federal Executive Council, FEC, were manipulating Nigerians, feeding them with a bunch of lies and those people were sabotaging Nigeria.
They should be charged for treasonable felony because they were not even loyal to Umaru Yarâ€™Adua but their pockets. All those people who were claiming they spoke with Yarâ€™Adua in Saudi Arabia were all liars. None of them spoke with him.
They were propagating their own selfish agenda. If they were loyal to Yarâ€™Adua, they should have been the people to initiate that there must be an Acting President for the country. It is unfortunate that those people who callÂ themselves FEC members, who are political appointeesÂ just want to keep their job.
And the person I would single out in this whole season of untruth is the former AGF, Aondoakaa, who cannot find the courage to implement the constitution. He knows very well that in the absence of the President, his deputy ought to have been sworn in to function as the acting president.
This is will empower him to have constitutional authority. But simply because a majority of them are political appointees, they are lying to the Nigerian public concerning the Presidentâ€™s health which, up till now, these people have not be able to get Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s personal physician to tell us the presidentâ€™s state of health. The whole thing is a huge joke.
Everyone was issuing statements and making us look like jokers. This is a constitutional matter and not one of silly emotions. But now that we have an acting president, we expect things to begin to happen.
He, that is the Acting President, had already appealed to the US to de-list Nigeria from their watch list of terrorist countries.
This shows you that he can now function. Nigerians should be rejoicing and give Jonathan their full cooperation so that he would be able to discharge his duties accordingly.
There is fear that he might have to contend with a Northern caucus who does not want him as Acting President.
Why are you saying this?
Who are the people that advocated for Jonathan to become Acting President? Am I not a Northerner? Is Buhari not a Northerner? What kind of problem will he have with the North? Should we listen to all the rubbish people say on this matter?
If he is going to have problems with the North, donâ€™t you think we have the capacity to say no? In the Senate, who are in majority? Is it not the North? In the House of Representatives, the North is in majority. Iâ€™m a Northerner. Iâ€™m talking about Nigeria, not about the North. Canâ€™t Nigerians think about Nigeria without bringing the North/South divide into it.
Nigerians should be patriotic for once. Nigerians should believe in Nigeria. We should believe in our Constitution. Everything should not be North/South. People like Zik didnâ€™t talk about the East. He talked about Nigeria. Why do we talk about the Ziks of Nigeria? It is because we know what he stood for; he was not a tribal champion. We should not speak about the North/South divide all the time whenever issues like this come up.
See, Iâ€™m discussing the constitution and you are speaking of a regional arrangement by politicians. The PDP made an arrangement with the South to have Jonathan as Vice President. It has nothing to do with the constitution of the federation. Iâ€™m speaking of upholding the constitution which was drafted by all people in this country. I donâ€™t know Goodluck Jonathan before or now.
But the constitution must be defended. It has nothing to do with the north. This situation has gone beyond that because the constitution is our binding force. A vice president of Nigeria is not anybodyâ€™s boy. This is serious business and has nothing to do with individuals, regions and political parties
But that is the truth that we face today on this issue. There is fear that the Northern caucus might contend with thisÂ elevation of VP to Acting President.
But the Senate has taken a decision. And there are more Northerners in the Senate. North has the majority in the Senate. It has the majority in the House of Representatives. They were there when the resolution was taken. We are not talking about the North here but about the Constitution of Nigeria which they participated in drafting. So, the Jonathan issue is a Constitutional issue.
If you talk about the PDP, Iâ€™d say that PDP from the North and PDP from the South made their own political arrangement. That is not in the Constitution. We need a government now.
We should not concern ourselves with politics of the future or what could happen in 2011 because we are talking about now. We need a government for now and that is what we have gotten. So, lets support Jonathan.