By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Abiye Sekibo was a former secretary to Rivers state government and Transport Minister in the Obasanjo regime. In this interview, he disagrees that having Jonathan fill the vacuum in the presidency could be taken to meanÂ that the South-South geo- political zone has takenÂ a shot at the Presidency.
Whatâ€™s your take on the take over of VP Jonathan as Acting President?
The Constitution provided that if the President is indisposed, the Vice President has to take over as Acting President. That ought to have been done much earlier and there was actually no basis for all the controversy. It was just that human beings were trying to circumvent the spirit of the Constitution. What has happened is not unusual. It happens in every democracy in the world.
Acting President Jonathan was the first South-South politician to attain the highest position in the land?
Are South-South people not Nigerians? The South-South has sacrificed more for this nation than any other section of Nigeria. We have sacrificed a lot. Anybody who is Vice President at any point in time, whether he is a Northerner, a Southerner, whether Igbo, Yoruba or whatever, would have stepped in as Acting President under the circumstances.
So, it has nothing to do with the geo-graphical area where he comes from. Itâ€™s just that he was the one who was occupying that position and he comes from the Niger-Delta area. Nigerians are no longer talking about where you come from but what you can give to Nigerians.
They are more concerned with thatÂ now. The whole world is moving away from where you come from. Look at Barack Obama of the United States. His father is from Kenya. There are those whose parents are pure Americans but they took somebody from Kenya. So, we should move away from this parochial mentality of where someone comes from to what the person can deliver. We have passed that stage. We should move on.
A lot of politics was played with this issue and tribal sentiments came into play at the time the agitation was on. And the VP then even appeared weak and helpless.
I donâ€™t think so. Everybody wants to angle and have a position of advantage. And it is interesting because it tells a lot about the Goodluck character. He kept his head cool throughout the bickering and ensured that the country continued to move on.
You can see how he handled the Jos crisis at the height of all that uncertainty. So, lets just thank God that He has always come to Nigeria State at its worst time and this is one of such occasions and we thank Him for it.
Should we have rest of mind now that the Acting President continues from where Yarâ€™Adua stopped on the amnesty programme?
Donâ€™t forget that Goodluck was part and parcel of that process. So, he is in the best position to continue with the amnesty programme because he was part and parcel of the process when it startedÂ and God has put him in charge until Yarâ€™Adua comes back. So, it is expected that he should do what is needful.
We hope in future, nobody would say that because of what has happened, the South-South has had its shot at Presidency?
Well, it is only politicians that will think along those lines. Jonathan was performing his role as the VP before this time. But the Constitution brought him to the level that he is now. When it comes to the South-South and the Presidency, we have more than enough capable people from the South-South who could become president.
And of course, the South-South people could defend themselves if anything wrong is being said against them. So, we are not on that bridge yet. When we get to that bridge, we will cross it.