Why he won’t resign, by FG
By Emma Amaize,Â Funmi Komolafe ,Emmanuel Aziken, Emeka Mamah, Okey Ndiribe, Daniel Idonor, Chris Ochayi & Tina Akannam
ABUJAâ€” Governors Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and Bukola Saraki of Kwara State who visited the President in Saudi Arabia, returned to the country, yesterday, and declared to their colleagues in the Governors’ Forum that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who is undergoing treatment in a Saudi Arabian hospital for heart ailment, is responding well to treatment.
Meanwhile the Federal Government yesterday took a swipe at the group of Nigerians which took a controversial but monumental position on the ill-health of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua by calling on him to resign. However, the government declared that it was a joke taken too far as the President cannot resign under the present circumstance.
The Forum was said to have mandated them and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State to briefÂ Vice PresidentÂ Goodluck Jonathan about the favourable outcome of their trip.
The delegation of governors, worried by the seeming vacuum created by the absence of the President due to his ill-health, yesterday equally visited the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to take better charge of the affairs of state as a way to stem the rising disquiet by Nigerians.
Vanguard gathered that the Forum agreed that the dust raised over the ill-health of the President arose because there were urgent national issues which needed to be addressed. They therefore urged the Vice President to tackle these critical issues as they come.
Why he won’t quit
No fewer thanÂ 50 prominent Nigerians across professions and spanning the six geo-political zones had Monday told ailing President Yarâ€™Adua to resign immediately or unconditionally handover to the Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who keeps pledging his loyalty to Yarâ€™Adua.
However, the National Democratic Party (NDP) blamed the political logjam arising from the Presidentâ€™s ill-health on greed on the part of erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo whom the party said foisted Yarâ€™Adua on Nigerians.
The queue for those who opposed the resignation call seemed longer last night with notable names including Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Chief Tony Anenih, Mr. Emmanuel Igbini, former Senate Chief Whip and Action Congress chieftain, Senator Rowland Owie backed by institutions such as the Nigeria Labour Congress and North-West Zone of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) casting aspersions on those calling for the Presidentâ€™s resignation.
Rising from a crucial session, which Vanguard learnt was dominated by the resignation saga, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday resolved that the President remains fit enough and would not, therefore, initiate the process of easing him out of office through the National Assembly; declaring that it would ignore the call since it has not found Yarâ€™Adua incapable of performing his duties.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, who led other cabinet members of FEC, including ministers to brief State House Correspondents, at the end of their weekly meeting, dismissed the unfortunate call and urged Nigerians to disregard it because it is baseless.
Those who accompanied the SGF to the all-important briefing, as this the first time the SGF will be briefing State House reporters, included key ministers such as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe;Â Minister of Niger Delta, Obong Uffot Ekaette;Â the Minister of State for Communications, Alhaji Inkra Bilbis and governmentâ€™s spokesperson and Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akuniyili, who read the resolutions of the meeting.
According to the speech, â€œFEC at its 46th meeting held today took notice of calls by some people for the invocation of the provisions of Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for Mr. President to resign his appointment on the ground of ill-health.
â€œCouncil, having reviewed all the facts on ground, unanimously resolved that there is no basis for the invocation of provisions of Section 144 of the Constitution, for the reason that the President has not been found incapable of discharging his functions.
â€œCouncil wishes to inform all Nigerians that all organs of government are functioning, and that government will continue to deliver.â€
Yayale says call unpatriotic
Speaking on behalf of the Council, the SGF said: â€œI want to assure Nigerians that this government is indeed, working and, is in good shape. First of all, you will recall that the President departed to Saudi Arabia for medical check-up and consequently a release was made on the nature of the ailment.
â€œWe are talking about nine days since the departure. Since then we have convened two council meetings, one last week, and today. Apart from these, every other aspect of governmental activity is being conducted well, and the Vice-President, as usual, is in charge. On issues that would require Mr. Presidentâ€™s express approval, contacts are being made and such approvals do come.
â€œWe would like to say that most Nigerians have really given us the kind of encouragement we require, a great majority, which we appreciate, they have been calling us and praying for Mr. Presidentâ€™s quick recovery.
â€œIn a democratic setting such as ours, the President and indeed, the whole of the council members are committed to the rule of law and constitutionality. We expect that a few would like to be in a hurry to stampede this council into doing things which they know is not practicable.
â€œWe will like to assure every Nigerian that the FEC as it is constituted, is a highly responsible, patriotic organ and that since we are a creation of constitution, we will not shy away from our responsibilities, and if it is in the wisdom of the executive council we donâ€™t need anybody to remind us because we are responsible enough.
â€œAs a matter of fact, presently, there is no basis, and, in fact, revealing exactly the nature of the ailment, this shows the transparency, the sincerity, and shows that we are all committed. We would not, therefore, be intimidated into doing things which are uncalled for.
â€œRight now, everything is going on normally, we have before us, three key issues which we are deliberating on. One is the issue of the post-amnesty plan, which Mr. President has approved the constitution of five committees and which Mr. Vice-President will soon inaugurate.
â€œThe five committees are the Presidential Monitoring Committee on Amnesty; the Infrastructural Development Committee headed by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, there is also the Disarmament and Reintegration Committee to be headed by the Minister of Defence.
â€œThere is also Oil and Gas Assets Protection, which committee will be headed by the Minister of Petroleum, and there is also the Environmental Remediation Committee, which will be headed by the Minister of Environment. All these have been constituted and approved by Mr. President and will soon be inaugurated by the Vice-President.
â€œAnother area of concern to the government is the issue of budget implementation. You are all aware that before the Presidentâ€™s departure, he forwarded the proposal to the table before the two houses, and the two houses, the Senate, in particular, yesterday, went through the second reading and passed to the committee which will now come back to the Senate in two weeks.
â€œThese are issues of governance, we know that we do not need to hide anything from anybody, the responsibility is imposed on us, and by the grace of God, this Council is capable of holding that responsibility.
â€œMy appeal to all Nigerians at this point in time is to join all religious bodies in praying for the nation, for the President because a responsible country knows that they deserve to have a president who is fully capable of discharging his duties, and as a human being, nobody is beyond being tested by the Almighty.
â€œI can assure you that everything is going on smoothly, normally, in accordance with the constitution, in accordance to the law, and in accordance to our promise to deliver to this countryâ€, the SGF stated.
Below is the SGFâ€™s Answers to Questions:
â€œTake a simple illness of headache that could take you to the doctor, diagnosis,â€¦ at what reasonable time will you start to speculate on this type of illness? Would you for example come back and collect your children that, your mother, who was hospitalised yesterday for headache, had 10 injections today, and tomorrow you call them again, and say today, you have news only to keep them informed. You have to get a reasonable length of time.
â€œAll we know at this point in time is that Mr. President is responding well to treatment, and that we are in touch with him. To tell us when is he coming back, you are now saying, that whether he is fully recovered or not yet, to come back.
The intention of somebody falling sick is to recover soon, that is the objective. And, when he recovers quickly, he takes a decision to come back, or the doctor says he should come back, and then he is back.
â€œYou do not say because he is president; go andÂ come back in two weeks. Even if the doctor decides, he might decide that I will need another week to relax, or doctor will say okay, you are discharged, stay for two weeks, the Mr. President may say I will like to go back to my job in one week.
â€œThere is nothing categorical with human beings; it is only God that will be categorical. All we know is that we donâ€™t owe anybody â€¦ that we have to be stampeded or intimidated to manage the affairs of this nation because nobody will appear to be more responsible than those of who know the antecedents of those who are talking, they have been in government before and we know, some of these people, what they have been doing and if as a group they cannot come and even if they pretend, to say, â€˜oh, letâ€™s pray for this Presidentâ€™ as a group of patriotic Nigerians, now they are grouping to say, let the President resign. This is the type of patriotism they know.
â€œNobody can teach us the constitution and its application, and when the time comes we will do it. You will cross the bridge when you reach the bridge, that is the issue, and, if there are more information that requires dissemination in order to cool down the anxiety and the curiosity, we would gladly say it a bit and if it is not necessary we cannot say it just because we want to play to the gallery,â€, he declared.
NDP blames Obasanjo
In another development, the National Democratic Party (NDP), yesterday blamed the political logjam arising from President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s ill-health on greed on the part of ex-President Obasanjo, whom they said foisted the President on Nigerians.
Besides, the party has joined the league of Nigerians urging the ailing President to resign because he cannot discharge his â€œconstitutional responsibilitiesâ€ anymore.
NDP, who stated this in a statement issued by its National Chairman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, in Abuja, advised that the President: â€œshould simply tender his resignation and allow the nation to move forwardâ€.
According to him, â€œwe also wish to join our voices with those of other eminent Nigerians who have called on Mr. President to resign his position and allow the constitution to take precedence.
â€œIt is obvious that given the health condition of the President, he certainly cannot discharge his constitutional responsibilities anymore, hence it is advised that he should simply tender his resignation and allow the nation to move forward. We wish him the very best as we pray for his soonest recovery
â€œWe, of the National Democratic Party (NDP), wish to state unequivocally that the anxiety and apprehension which the news of President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s ill-health has generated in the country would have been avoided had former President Olusegun Obasanjo had the interest of the country at heart during the 2007 electoral process.
â€œAt the height of the build-up to the 2007 election, Chief Obasanjo and his co-travellers in the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party (PDP), stage-managed the entire process and foisted President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua on the nation, knowing full well that the man had serious health challenges. The nation would have avoided this political logjam if Chief Obasanjo had the interest of the nation at heart.
â€œAfter the death of his infamous third term agenda, he unveiled his greed and avarice and tried all he could to alter the apple cart, but God did not allow him. He went further to lobby a man who the whole world knew was not having the best in terms of healthy state of mind, and rigged him into office.
â€œFor the past two years, the nation has been undergoing series of mind fluctuations due to the ill-health ofÂ Mr. President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua.
â€œEven though we are aware that ill-health and death are in the realm of the Almighty Lord, there were some able-bodied presidentialÂ aspirants who could have done better than what the nation is going through at this critical time of our political development.
â€œMay God forgive former President Olusegun Obasanjo for this deliberate wickedness and selfishness quite unbecoming of a man who wanted the country and the entire world to see him as an elder statesman.
â€œWith the apprehension gaining momentum by the day, we are aware of several permutations to the effect that Chief Obasanjo is allegedly lobbying for a Vice-Presidential slot for one of his lackeys.
â€œWe, of the National Democratic Party, are of the considered opinion that Chief Obasanjo should simply hide his head in shame for the selfishness and greed exhibited at the twilight of his administration, by putting the destiny of over 150 million Nigerians in the hands of a sickly President.
â€œEven as we share in the sentiments being expressed by some Nigerians that the President needs our prayers, we wish to refresh the memories of Nigerians that Chief Obasanjo should be blamed for this political logjam, and so deserves to be ignored in the unfolding scenario.
â€œEven though we are not against the aspiration of anyone, it will be bad publicity to have Obasanjo marketing any candidate for a post that is yet to be vacant. Nigerians will forever live to regret Obasanjoâ€™s decision to this effectâ€.
Oshiomhole decries call for resignation
Meantime, the Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC), has prayed for President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s quickÂ recovery just as the Edo State Governor,Â Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, decried calls for Mr. Presidentâ€™s resignation. He also pledged the loyalty of the government and people of Edo State to President Yarâ€™Adua.
NLCâ€™s General Secretary, Mr .John Odah, who spoke to Vanguard said: â€œWe would rather not be drawn into any controversy about the Presidentâ€™s health. We wish him recovery.â€
Former NLC president and Governor Oshiomhole was not happy with those calling for theÂ Presidentâ€™s resignation, arguing that it was premature to be talking of succession for someone that is alive.
The governor warned people to desist from playing God with a matter as delicate as the health of the nationâ€™s number one citizen.
In a statementÂ in Benin yesterday,Â the governor, who commended the Senate for shooting down the motion on the health of Mr President, said what all well-meaning Nigerians needed to do was to pray for the quick recovery and good health of the President who is receiving medical attention in Saudi Arabia.
The governor said, â€œNigerians must realise that Yarâ€™Adua has been a unifying factor in the polityâ€, whose â€œimmense contribution to the liberalisation and expansion of the democratic space deserves profound appreciationâ€.
According to Oshiomhole:Â â€œThe Presidentâ€™s statesmanly handling of the Niger Delta crisis as well as his accommodation of the oppositionÂ is unparalleled in the history of the countryâ€.
While acknowledging Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s sympathetic ear to resolving the problems in Edo State and his willingness to render assistance to the development effort of the present administration, Oshiomhole pledged the unflinching loyalty of the good people and government of Edo State to the President.
Governor Oshiomhole urged Nigerians to be their brotherâ€™s keeper and pray daily for Mr. President.
N-West PDP blasts agitators
The Northwest zone of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described those Nigerians calling for the resignation of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua as lousy, insisting that they should not be taken seriously.
Secretary of the party in the zone, Mr. Baba Aliyu, who made this known at the partyâ€™s office in Kaduna, yesterday, said the opposition parties that were either calling on the National Assembly to declare Yarâ€™Adua as unfit to rule or calling for his resignation should be disregarded because Yarâ€™Adua will resume his normal duties after receiving treatment over his illness in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
While accusing such people as trying to the cause chaos in the country, Aliyu advised them to first of all, put their own parties in order.
â€œIt is not that we are just putting the blame on them (opposition) because the matter is orchestrated by them,â€ he said
Relatedly, erstwhile chairman of the Board of Trustees of PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, has described as ungodly and insensitive the call on President Yarâ€˜Adua to resign from office on account of his ill-health.
Anenih, in a rebuttal to the call orchestrated by 55 notable Nigerians on Tuesday affirmed that what the President needed now was prayers instead of what he described as the unnecessary politicisation of his state of health.
Affirming that Yarâ€˜Adua was susceptible to the physical stress normal to every other human being, Anenih charged all Nigerians to continuously pray for the President on the basis that all Nigerians owed it as an obligation to uphold the well-being of the Nigerian leader.
Anenih, the Iyasele of Esanland, in the statement issued in Abuja also called on governors and other political elite who have been trooping to Saudi Arabia to visit the President to give him some respite to enable him achieve quick recovery.
Donâ€™t confuse thenationâ€“ Dantiye
A stalwart of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP) in Jigawa State,Â Alhaji Nasiru Garba Dantiye, has advised those calling for the resignation of the President not to confuse the nation, advising that the Vice-President should be mandated to take full charge of the affairs of the nation in an acting capacity pending the recovery of the president.
Dantiye noted that if the situation stayed more than necessary, appropriate decision according to the provision of the 1999 Constitution can be applied, adding that the constitution is clear on the existing scenario, and warned that the country should avoid creating power vacuum in the interest of democracy.
His words: â€œInstead of creating confusion in the nation the 1999 Constitution provision should be applied when necessary. We should concentrate on safeguarding the nationâ€™s young democracy and pray for quick recovery of Mr. Presidentâ€™.
Okoye deniesÂ involvement
In another development, the Executive Director of Human Rights Monitor (HRM), Mr. Festus Okoye, has dissociated himself from the group of eminent Nigerians calling for the resignation of Yarâ€™Adua.
Okoye, who was a member of the Justice Mohammed Uwais Committee on Electoral Reforms, said in a statement in Kaduna, yesterday that he was not consulted by the authors of the said document, pointing out also that he never signed any statement to that effect.
Reacting to the development, ex-governor of Edo State, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, said: â€˜â€™I believe the call on President YarÃdua to resign as a result of the condition of his health is premature. What we should be concerned with is to pray for his recovery rather than getting involved in the argument of whether he should resign or not.
â€˜â€™It may appear as if there is a crisis, but I donâ€™t think that is correct. I do believe the machinery of the Federal Government is working well. I believe we should be concerned because the health of the President is not his making. He needs to rest before deciding whether he wants to continue or not continue in office.
Oyebode insists he should go
Also, a University of Lagos law teacher, Professor Akin Oyebode, said: â€˜â€™My position is that it would be an act of patriotism not to elevate oneâ€™s personal interest above that of the nation.
â€˜â€™If President YarÃdua genuinely believes he is unable to continue and the best thing in the circumstance is to throw in the towel and go to take care of his health, he should do so. But to continueÂ to cling on to powerÂ when in actualityÂ he is unable to discharge the functions of high office is not only an embarrassment to himself,Â it is an embarrassment to the entire country.
â€˜â€™The whole world is watching and they have better records of his state of health and nobody is amused. What they would be saying behind our back now is that we are a bunch of incompetent people who donâ€™t what to do about this type of situation.
â€˜â€™I think Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s friends should advise him to get out of the difficult situation in which he has found himself. Nobody really has ill wishes towards him,Â but I think he would be applauded by all and sundry if he borrows a leafÂ fromÂ Mr. Segun Ayobolu, who has just resigned his position in the Lagos State Government on account of his health. If he decides to stay on in office, even while sick, it would be a great disservice to the rest of us.
PDP prays for him
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held a prayer session for the quick recovery of President Yarâ€™Adua, in Abuja, yesterday.
The committee also condemned those calling for hisÂ resignation on account of his ill- health, saying those behind such calls were mischievous.
Led by the partyâ€™s National Chairman,Â Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, the committee restated its unflinching to Mr President, whom it said was capable of discharging his duties as the head of the government.
Also, a group of PDP womenâ€™s wing which was at the Wadata Place headquarters of the party to protest the recent primaries of the party in the Abuja Municipal Area Council and to call for its cancellation, turned their protest rally into a prayer session for Yarâ€™Adua.