By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”A group, Ijaw Foundation, has faulted the claim by some northern elites that the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, cannot be made substantive President due to the Peoples Democratic Partyâ€™s internal arrangement ceding power to the North.
Declaring support for the current leadership of the country, the group said the ascension of Dr. Jonathan as Acting President was an act of loyalty to both Yarâ€™Adua and the nation, and not an act of disloyalty.
President of the group, Dr. Ebipamone Nanakumo, explained in an interview with Vanguard that given the enormous challenges on ground, the country needed a steady hand at its helm.
The group said:Â â€œFirstly, some Nigerians, citing the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Partyâ€™s internal rotational arrangement ceding power to the North, feel that Acting President Jonathanâ€™s position robs the North of their turn at exercising power at the national level.”
â€œIn our view, this is totally unwarranted since our nation needs steady hands at its helm. From the attempted airline bombing over Detroit, to the political upheaval in next-door Republic of Niger , it is clear that Nigeria has to be optimally engaged at all times in this fast moving world, with a president who is well and fully engaged. Nigeria cannot afford to stand still in the midst of the fast moving events of the global community.
â€œGoodluck Jonathan, a southerner, becoming president of the country does not in any way violate or subvert the zoning arrangement of the ruling PDP because Goodluck Jonathan will be taking over from a northern president, and the PDP can re-zone the presidency to the north after Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s presidency, in perfect sync with its rotational policy.
â€œIt would, therefore, be wrong and unacceptable to deny Goodluck Jonathan the right to be the PDP nominee for the 2011 presidential election.
â€œBy his actions and demeanor, Jonathan has time and time again shown utmost loyalty to President Yarâ€™Adua.Â We wish to stress that, as Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s deputy in a joint presidential mandate, loyalty demands and compels Jonathan to become Acting President to fully and effectively discharge the duties of the President when the later is incapacitated to do so.
â€œThus, Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s ascension as Acting President is an inevitable act of loyalty to both Yarâ€™Adua and the nation, and not an act of disloyalty. Like Jonathan and others in the nation, we wish President Yarâ€™Adua well and pray for his speedy and full recovery.â€
On those opposed to the National Assemblyâ€™s action in passing the acting presidency resolution without resort to medical certification of incapacitation or to impeachment as ways to resolve the crisis of the vacuum in leadership, Dr. Nanakumo said, â€œThe National Assemblyâ€™s solution provides, ironically, a properly nuanced understanding of the political dynamics of Nigeria and, presumably for this reason, commands wide acceptance among the citizenry. Some may call the National Assemblyâ€™s approach â€˜illegitimateâ€™ and â€˜unconstitutional.â€™ However, no competent judicial body has, so far, reached any verdict of unconstitutionality.
â€œAt this point, if any can, with certitude, assert that the Supreme Court of the land will invalidate the National Assemblyâ€™s ingenious solution to the bourgeoning crisis, they deceive themselves and the truth is not in them. Until and unless such a legitimate and competent judicial pronouncement is made, Nigerians ought to refrain from unduly overheating the internal order. We should all turn the national temperature down. After all, the National Assembly is the institution invested with law-making and constitution- review authority.â€
â€œNigeria,â€ the group noted, â€œis not a monarchy but a secular constitutional political entity and thus belongs to all Nigerians and not to only a section of the country.
â€œEvidently, any Nigerian who is qualified and capable should have the right to rule the country, if a majority of Nigerians agree through either electoral votes or a collective decision of the representatives of the people. No one, certainly not Jonathan or anybody else, should attain the position of Acting Presidentâ€”or be disqualified from itâ€”solely by reason of ethnic or regional origin.
â€œRegardless of our origins, what binds us together as a nation is the Nigerian constitution. If the constitution is subverted and Jonathan is removed through unconstitutional and undemocratic processes, we shall consider that our constitutional obligations are thereby abrogated,â€ the group declared.
It warned against any threat, overt or covert, to the life of the acting president, saying â€œwe shall not tolerate any plot to destabilize his leadership. Such treasonable act will be viewed by us as a declaration to marginalize the South-South and extinct the Ijaw people of Nigeria .
â€œConsequently, we are able, willing and ready to activate the forces of the international community under the United Nationsâ€™ charter to assert and protect our rights to survival, human dignity and self-determination