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Worries over Ag Presidency

Since ailing President Umaru Yar’ Adua embarked upon a medical vacation in Saudi Arabia without transmitting a letter to the leadership of the National Assembly to enable his Deputy, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to emerge as the Acting President, the nation has been thrown into a constitutional chaos.

In response to the vacuum that was created, the National Assembly decided to capitalise on the so-called doctrine of necessity to proclaim Jonathan the Acting President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It is well over one hundred days since the nation has been administered by the Acting President. Many opinion leaders have argued that Yar’ Adua’s refusal to transmit that letter was a gross misconduct and abuse of the constitution which warrants his outright impeachment.

However, the Governors’ Forum, the leadership of the National Assembly and the Working Committee of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spotted some danger in pressing ahead with this constitutional response to the president’s intransigence. They expressed the fear that the democratic system might be truncated by some anti-democratic forces loyal to the president if the constitution is strictly followed.

Since his emergence as the Acting Chief Executive of the Federation, Dr Jonathan has taken many far reaching steps to anchor a government able to respond to the pressing needs of the nation, especially the 2010 appropriation bill, the electoral reforms, constitutional reforms, preparations for the 2011 general elections, the electric power and infrastructural rehabilitation programme, the post-amnesty projects and other issues concerning the Niger Delta.

Monies have twice been downloaded from the Excess Crude Account and shared to the three tiers of government. The federal cabinet has been dissolved with its reconstitution imminent, and the National Security Adviser has been replaced.

Worrying signs continue to exist to indicate that some interests are displeased with the manner in which the Acting President emerged. Some have gone to court to challenge it. There are two possible motives for this challenge. Some are based on the desire for constitutional purity, which means that they demand either the declaration of Yar Adua as permanently incapacitated or his impeachment for gross misconduct.

The other is more insidious, in that there are interests which want the current political arrangement to be upset in the courts. When this happens and all actions taken by the Acting President are nullified, the country would re-enter the political impasse and an opening could be created for a possible military coup.

We call on all Nigerians to carefully and wisely consider the far reaching consequences of their actions before embarking on them, because if evil befalls this nation, no one will be safe from its fallouts. Since the nation has worked out a political compromise to tide us over the little period remaining before the next election, let us be patient and abide by it.

Let us support the Acting President to bring the nation back on course.


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