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This EXCOF must act now!

By Jerry Asiegbu

A new Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, may be reconstituted this week following last week’s Senate screening and approval of the nominees sent by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.

The last EXCOF was dissolved following obvious crisis of allegiance resulting from a divided presidency. The allegiance was divided between President Umaru Yar’Adua and Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan was made Acting President on Tuesday, February 9, by a National Assembly resolution relying on the ‘doctrine of necessity’ after 90 days of Yar’Adua’s absence from the country without notifying the National Assembly as prescribed by the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

Yar’Adua was evacuated to a Saudi hospital in Jedda on November 23, 2009, for emergency health attention. While he was there, his kitchen cabinet spearheaded by former Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, did all sorts of unsavoury things to frustrate Nigerians from knowing the true status of the President’s health. The office of the Vice President was rendered redundant and most ministers were reduced to mere errand boys and girls .

The office of the President became a personal property managed by a faceless cabal bent on serving their selfish interests. While the cabal reigned, different delegations visited Saudi Arabia to show solidarity with the ailing President: Some governors believed to be close to the President failed to see him; House of Representatives members were denied access to him; the PDP high command were made to eat the humble pie in their efforts to see him.

As this situation continued to generate serious concerns within and outside Nigeria, a diplomatic row was brewing between Nigeria and the Saudi authorities.

The international community led by the United States minced no words in condemning the Saudi government for shielding the ailing Nigerian President from his people. The Federal Government delegation was the last to go to Saudi to see the President.

The Saudi authorities knowing their hide and seek game was up, as there was no way the delegation would be denied access to him, had to send him back home. The President arrived in a commando style in an air ambulance in the wee hours of Wednesday, February 24, with all lights switched off and airport staff kept off. The Brigade of Guards deployed for his arrival was said to have been deployed without the knowledge of the Acting President and top Defence
officials. The EXCOF meeting of that day was put off as there was confusion over who would preside, and Jonathan avoiding a face-off between his aides and those of the president.

For the more than one month the President has been in the country, everything about him has been shrouded in secrecy. The Acting President has been denied access to him.  No notable Nigerian has been allowed to see him, including his mother and siblings.

Just two weeks ago, after the dissolution of the EXCOF, the President’s minders flew a kite that he would attend prayers at the Abuja National Mosque. They rolled out cars in the presidential fleet cruising in and around Aso Rock just to harass and intimidate the Acting President and cause him not to perform his duties.

As if that was not enough, another religious angle was added with last Friday’s claim by the Muslim leader, Dr. Ibrahim Datti that he in the company of three others visited the ailing President and chatted and prayed with him. What are all these meant to achieve? This religious angle would be the most disastrous knowing what Nigeria is. If the person of the Acting President was denied access to Yar’Adua, why did the President’s minders deem it expedient to allow Muslim religious leaders to see him and make their interactions with him public knowledge just days to the reconstitution of the EXCOF? Enough of this arrant nonsense!

The minders of the President set out from day one to deceive Nigerians on his health status. The President is public property and therefore health issues and others about him should be made public. What are they really hiding? What do they really take Nigeria to be?

The new EXCOF must invoke Section 144 of the Constitution and help establish once and for all the true status of the President’s health. This will put to rest claims and counter-claims on his health and help Nigeria move forward. Nigerians are suffering untold hardship. The Acting President does not need unnecessary distractions again. He should be allowed and helped to concentrate and bail out Nigeria within the short period left. The Acting President should help himself too by being decisive. Emotions and sentiments must be relegated to the background. The truth must be told now. If when the truth is told you heat up the polity and endanger the unity of Nigeria, then our unity is a false one. We must therefore explore a new basis for unity.

Mr. Asiegbu is a staff of Vanguard Newspapers .


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