By Henry Umoru
ABUJAâ€”FORMER Minister of Finance, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, yesterday cautioned Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan and the Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, against invoking section 144 on ailing President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua.
He said declaring Yarâ€™Adua incapable of discharging his functions would amount to inflicting more pains to the personality of the President.
Ciroma also admitted that the health issue of President Yarâ€™Adua was not handledÂ properly, just as he said the sickness was a lesson to everyone, because â€œsickness does not discriminate.â€
The former minister who spoke with newsmen in Abuja stressed that anyone who planned to invoke the constitutional provision, was only trying to create heartaches, adding that it would affect the entire country.
He said: â€œInvoking section 144 of the constitution will be a distractive process.
I can warn that anybody who is thinking of invoking that section is going to produce heartache in the whole political process. It is going to become disruptive.
What kind of people are we that somebody is not well, somebody is acting in his place and then, you want to take the step of removing him, for what? You have to be sympathetic in the way you relate to people.â€
Section 144 reads in part, â€œThe President or Vice President shall cease to hold office, if (a) by a resolution passed by two-third majority of all members of the Executive Council of the Federation, it is declared that the President or Vice President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office and (b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.â€
Mallam Ciroma who also spoke on the zoning arrangement of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, said: â€œThe zoning arrangement is something which we, the people who formed this party discussed and came to a conclusion which we believe will serve the interest of this county better. It is not enough to think that you can get the right people or the competent people from one side of the country.
“After the death of General Sani Abacha, it was we, people from this part of the world or this part of Nigeria, who decided that the next President should come from the south and we agreed that the rotation should be between north and south though there are six zones.
â€œSo, we agreed that somebody from the south should become the President. We did not say from which part of the south. It was the way events developed in the south that produced General Olusegun Obasanjo as the President and he was to act as President for two terms, and when he tried to extend his period, he met our resistance and he himself took part in choosing President Yarâ€™Adua to become his successor.
â€œYar’Adua is now in the middle of his term or the term which is for the north and he is unwell. If he recovers to contest the next election, there will be no problem.
If for some reasons, he cannot contest, the issue is to consider as the PDP did recently that the remaining four years of Yarâ€™Adua which is belonging to the north should be operated by a northern elected President.
â€œBetween now and that period, a lot of claimants are already beginning to emerge and it will not be unexpected if the Acting President also wishes to contest.
And whether or not he succeeds will depend on how he handles issues in the party between now and the primaries in the party. The party has said the north would retain power.â€
The elder statesman said that if Acting President Jonathan decided to contest the 2011 elections, he can not be stopped, stressing: â€œIf he wishes, you cannot stop him from trying. He may try and by the time he succeeds, it means the wish of the party has changed.â€