AS 36 govs insist on handover
By Daniel IDONOR, Abuja
AN indication that the heroic memorandum, seeking President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to step down, by the Minister of Information and Communication, Professor Dora Akunyili, may have smooth sail during debate at next Wednesday Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting came yesterday when the 36 governors of the federation yesterday rose from a closed door meeting with Vice President Goodluck Jonathan asking him to exercise the full powers of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The governors said while awaiting the unavoidable compliance by cabinet members through a unanimous resolution, which they will send to the legislative arm, the National Assembly should on its own go ahead to declare Jonathan as Nigeriaâ€™s Acting President without further delay, so as allow the unity of the country.
Vice President Jonathan, who was expecting only Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State who had earlier called that he would be coming to see him, was shocked to report to his office yesterday morning with over 20 governors waiting for him.
Overwhelmed by the large crowd he saw in his office, Jonathan jokingly asked, â€œIs this a coup or what? I hope it is not led by the Adamawa Governor (Murtala Nyako)?” befor directing that the meeting be moved from his office upstairs to the ground floor, where there is a larger conference room.
Chairman of the Governorsâ€™ Forum and Governor of Kwara State, Dr Saraki, who led 20 other governors to a meeting with Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, after they have met Thursday night, said the Forum has scheduled a meeting for next week with the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to passing a resolution that will declare the VPÂ Acting President.
The Governors, who spoke separately to journalists, said they at the Governorsâ€™ Forum have been able to work together as team in arriving at the decision to allow Jonathan take over power so they expect Ministers and member of the Yarâ€™Adua cabinet to the same thing so that Nigeria can move forward once again.
Gov Saraki said â€œwe associate ourselves with the court ruling that has been given concerning the president and the vice president and that also we now agreed to meet with the leadership of the National Assembly to urge them to pass a resolution recognizing the vice president as the acting president of the nationâ€.
On whether there was division among the governors which led to a report that Northern governors do not want Yarâ€™Adua to hand over power, the Governor maintained that â€œthere was no division amongst the governorsâ€.
The Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke, who also fielded questions from journalists on the outcome of their meeting said he expect the FEC members to do what is right in the face of the political crises the country is passing through.
â€œThatâ€™s a matter of the Federal Executive Council, to which we do not belong. I am a member of the governorsâ€™ forum, we have taken a position, and we all stand by that position. We believe that at this point in time, that it is necessary that appropriate actions be taken and solutions be found, to what appears to be a problem of the existence of a vacuumâ€.
According to him, â€œI donâ€™t share the view of the existence of a vacuum, because the vice_president clearly has the same number of votes as the president, they enjoy a joint mandateâ€.
He explained that â€œSection 145 of the 1999 Constitution is subject to interpretation and it has recently been interpreted in the court and what we cannot do is to question the judgment until such a time another judgment is obtained, that remains the position, and until that time, the vice_president can act. I think that is very clear.
â€œIt is also very clear now that section 145 starts with whenever, it does not start with any other word, other than the word whenever.Â In the event that the transmission does not occur, certain actions can be taken to guarantee the stability of the nationâ€.
Asked if it be possible to take this decision before the letter is transmitted, he said â€œunder the circumstances, we believe that the president has been acting in that way and in order to further give more force on that, the national assembly as well should pass an orderâ€.
Also speaking, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State said â€œwe unanimously resolved that all arms of government should support the vice president to discharge his duties as acting president of the countryâ€.
He denied the report credited to the Northern Governors that they were against the Vice President assuming the position of Acting President, saying that â€œit is not true that northern governors said Jonathan should not act as president, the northern governors are part of the governorsâ€™ forum and there was no dissenting voiceâ€.
On the response of the Vice President to the issue raised, Governor Akpabio disclosed that he thanked for the visit and their decision, saying while Nigerians pray for the quick recovery of Yarâ€™Adua there is need for a more assertive action and for us to bring all these publications in Nigeria to an end.
Because we must re_emphasize that the constitution made it clear that there is no vacuum and in order to give teeth to the fact that there must not be vacuumâ€.