By Henry Umoru
ABUJAâ€”ELDERS and leaders from the South-South geo-political zone yesterday rose from a meeting, warning governors from the zone to desist from any attempt to frustrate Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, just as they vowed not to take any exception from them.
The leaders, who spoke under the aegis of South- South Elders and Leaders Forum, stressed that they were dismayed by what the forum described as uncomplimentary and unpatriotic role the governors from the zone played against the resolution of the National Assembly empowering Acting President Jonathan through a resolution.
In a statement signed yesterday in Abuja by the National Secretary and Publicity Secretary, Chief Ayakeme Whisky and Dr. Michael Oberabor respectively, the elders also warned the Nigerian Governorsâ€™ Forum and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to stop confusing Nigerians against the backdrop that Section 145 of the Nigerian Constitution stated clearly that until the ailing president transmits to the National Assembly and was fit to resume duties, the Vice President acts as President.
According to them, â€œour attention has been drawn to the uncomplimentary and unpatriotic role being played by some South-South governors against the firm resolution of the National Assembly empowering the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to provide purposeful leadership that will steer the ship of state to a safe berth.
â€œMuch as we have no problem with these governors, who are indeed our sons and representatives, we take strong exception to their attempt at frustrating the acting president and indeed the generality of all well meaning Nigerians who yearn for a very quick resolution of the current impasse and return to strong democratic governance.
â€œWe understand some of the motives behind this power play but wish in the interest of our great country, to urge them to sheath their swords and work as one with their brother, Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and indeed the people of Nigeria.”
â€œSection 145 of the Nigerian Constitution is very clear on the matter of President and Acting President. Until the President transmits to the National Assembly that he is fit to resume duties, the Vice acts as President. We cannot have a functioning President and an Acting President at the same time. This is the erroneous impression being created in the minds of Nigerians by the governorsâ€™ Forum and the Peoples Democratic Party.
It is the inability of the President to perform his duties that makes the Vice President to act in his stead. The governorsâ€™ forum and the PDP should at this time stop confusing Nigerians and instead pray for the quick recovery of the President to take up his dutiesâ€.
The statement which noted that the South-South Elders and Leaders Forum is made up of eminent personalities like former Federal Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark, former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe, Alabo Graham Douglas, Olorogun Felix Ibru, former governors, former members of the National Assembly, eminent professionals, women groups, stressed that these people have severally Spoken out in the interest of the region and indeed the entire nation, adding â€œHence the governors of the region cannot arrogate to themselves the position of sole representation of the people of the region and their only mouthpiece.
The governors know very well the role the elders and leaders of the region have played in the emergence of the current dispensation. â€œWhile we recognize the peculiar positions of the governors, the Nigerian Constitution is sacrosanct and remains the only instrument that binds the nation together. All governors have sworn to protect, uphold and defend it.
Hence we implore the governors to join hands in piloting the ship of State. The setting up of the Presidential Advisory Council and with the inspirational inaugural speech by its Chairman, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, the governors must as a matter of urgency: â€œStart the necessary processes whereby the Acting President is supported and encouraged in those areas he has identified as the focal points of attention for the remaining period of this administration.
â€œThe electoral reforms must have the input and support of the governors in such a way that the electoral process is transparent, free and fair and adhere to the dictum of one man, one vote. The governors have nothing to fear with the reform process and stand to gain so much especially in the areas of internal democracy within the various political parties.
Indeed, Nigerians expect the Acting President to fully constitute the Independent National Electoral Commission with a full complement of members as a matter of priority. The Niger Delta peace process must be comprehensive and the current gains of government initiative in the region must be built uponâ€.