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JONATHAN’S PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COUNCIL : Breaking away from the past?

*A cross section of member Presidential Advisory Council with Jonathan

In what many have described as Acting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s first steps, his inauguration of a Presidential Advisory Council, PAC, last Thursday may be the beginning of a paradigm shift.  This report examines the challenges before the PAC.

By Jide Ajani

Recovering from the near embarrassment caused penultimate week by the Chief Security Officer, CSO, and ADC to President Umaru Yar’Adua and which led to the non-sitting of the Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan set to work by constituting a Presidential Advisory Council, PAC.

With no Chief of Staff to the President since the exit of General Mohammed Abdulahi over two years ago, the Yar’Adua administration ran on the wisdom of the Katsina mafia.

But Jonathan, stealing the moment, selected a team of 26 Nigerians of integrity and clout.

As Chairman, General T. Y. Danjuma (rtd) brings to the table eminence that is at once discerning and valuable.  His deputy is Constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze, former Chairman of Ohaneze Nd’Igbo.  In the team also is Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Then there is Fola Adeola, of the Guaranty Trust Bank fame.  There is also Mobola Johnson, the Country Managing Director of Accenture, Nigeria, as well as Ismaila Isa, a man of steel and unalloyed belief in the nation called Nigeria.  Professor Barth Nnaji, M. Hayatuddeen and Alfa Belgore, a former Chief Justice of the Federation are members.
Also in the pack is Chibudum Nwuche, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives and a graduate of Politics and Philosophy, and Law from the University of Wales, United Kingdom. (See list)

*Jonathan with Gen T. Y. Danjuma (rtd) at the occasion

But how did Jonathan get these men together to work for an administration that appeared headed for the abyss?

First, its chairman, Danjuma!  For an Acting President Jonathan seen by some to be tied to the apron-strings of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the former needed a personality that would deflect that perception, hence a Danjuma.
Sunday Vanguard was told that it took some time to persuade Obasanjo to agree to a Danjuma as Chairman of the PAC.

The reason for this is that sometime during the administration of Obasanjo, he parted ways with his friend, Danjuma.  But Danjuma’s value supersedes that of just deflection.

Being a former Chief of Army Staff and Defence Minister, Danjuma is believed to still possess the clout to relate directly or indirectly with the military – especially at a time when stories and rumours of disquiet hit the air some weeks ago. A member of the Council told Sunday Vanguard of Danjuma’s importance as chairman vis-à-vis Obasanjo:
“Obasanjo has to and must be seen to keep some distance because Nigerians still see Obasanjo as the architect of the present misfortune of this country; so anybody seen as not being an Obasanjo person brings freshness.”

The Acting President, who confessed that “as much as he would have loved to personally get in touch with members of the team but could not”, he appreciated their acceptance of the offer to serve.

But it was gathered that the seeming quality paraded by the membership of the PAC had to do with Jonathan’s decision not to open it to political grandstanding.

It was learnt that whereas in times past such appointments to such councils were left in the hands of state governors to nominate members, Jonathan decided to scan the environment and did the search with some people supposedly apolitical.

But this, in itself, is said to be creating its own problem.

Whereas there are some who believe that the number may be a bit on the high side, there is subtle pressure on Acting President Jonathan to expand the body.

Some are basing their arguments on the need for it to be completely representative of the 36 states of the federation.
Jonathan, so far, has parried the pressure.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that the PAC will commence sitting next week.
The allowances and arrangement for feeding and accommodation are being worked out by the Office of the SGF.
Sources said materials for the Council’s work are being assembled by its secretariat.

“Unlike what used to happen in the past, this PAC would not just jump into its work like that. It would take a critical look at some earlier works in the same capacity aimed at bringing good governance, economic prosperity and stability to our people.  It would not be wise for us to say we want to start from the scratch.

There are a lot of reports on ground that we can work with, especially in the presidency.  What we would be expected to do would be to assist the Acting President in fast-tracking whatever he wants to achieve for this nation with good counsel.  Work is to be done in such a manner that they would build on what people have done”, sources said.

“There are works on the ground that some people have done before and are just gathering dust.  No need searching for esoteric ideas that may never work. Government is a continuum”

The PAC’s five terms of reference, contained in a March 3, 2010 letter of appointment signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Yayale, are:
“1)  To provide alternative input  into policy formulation that would promote good governance in the areas of  power, economy, infrastructure, security, social sector, electoral process, fight against corruption
“2)  To evaluate policy implementation and advise on areas requiring adjustments
“3)  To advise the (Acting)  President on how to  maximize the benefits derivable from government
“4)  To advise on such actions and programmes that may improve credibility and performance of the government
“5)  To advise on any other matter referred to it by the (Acting) President”.

THE PRESIDENTIAL TEAM
*T. Y. Danjuma
*Ben Nwabueze
*Fola Adeola
*Abubakar Gimba
*Basil Omiyi
*M.D. Yusuf
*Emeka Anyaoku
*G. B. Preware
*Barth Nnaji
*Kase Lawal
*M. Hayatuddeen
*Alfa Belgore
*Chibudom Nwuche
*Mobola Johnson
*Halita Aliyu,
*Magaji Danbatta
*B. G. Bajoga
*Sally Bolujoko
*Mariam Uwais
*Kanu Agabi
*Bamanga Tukur
*Ismaila Isa
*Shehu S. Sarinwata
*Simon C. Okolo
*Chairman, NESG
*PS. Special Duties   Office of SFG


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