By Ise-Oluwa Ige
A group of 140 lawmakers in the House of Representatives had reaffirmed that but for the February 9, 2010 resolution of the two chambers of the National Assembly proclaiming Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan as the acting president, Nigeria could have witnessed another forceful change of government that could have returned the military to power.
The group, The Nigeria First Forum, NFF, was reacting to recent legal suits and media campaigns mounted against the Acting President by opponents who are of the opinion that his elevation to power by the National Assembly was illegal.
A prominent member of the Board of Trustees of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, had led an onslaught against the administration and had asked the Senate not to honour the list of nominees for ministerial appointments sent to it for screening and confirmation.
According to him, the Acting President lacked the legal authority to dissolve the Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, and the power to constitute a new cabinet.
NFF’s chairman, Hon. Abba Anas Adamu (PDP Jigawa), who spoke on the issue, said while individuals like Yakassai were free to express their views, it would have been better if those opposed to the new regime had provided a viable alternative to what the parliament did in the heat of the constitutional crisis that arose out of the prolonged absence of ailing President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua.
The elevation of the vice-president to the position of acting president, Adamu said, was the best in the circumstance the country found itself.
According to him, the prolonged absence of President Yarâ€™Adua and the leadership vacuum it created almost led to a military takeover of government which in turn could have led to political chaos and disintegration of the country.
Adamu said that Yakassai might either be suffering from old age or acting somebody elseâ€™s script.
He said that it was wrong criticising the action of the National Assembly and the steps so far taken by Jonathan to stabilise Nigeria without offering viable alternatives.
â€œIf what we (parliament) did was wrong, what would he have suggested that we do that would have guaranteed the existence of Nigeria as one entity and the continued progress of democracy in this country? If what we did was not done, certainly the ship of this country could have capsized because it was at that material time that military officers, high and low, were given instructions not to move an inch without clearance which was an indication of the fact that something dangerous was looming and that they (military) could act.
â€œIf we did not act the way we did, there could have been a problem in the country which could have consumed not only those who are elected and who have the responsibility of seeing that something was done to checkmate the disaster but the very existence of this country would have been in danger.
â€œThe only alternative to what we did was change of government through forceful means and that is not what members of the National Assembly are interested in seeing. That is also not what every person who is conscious of the importance of democracy would have loved to see happening in Nigeria. I am sure that what we did was in the best interest of the country and if we had not done that certainly, Nigeria could have been in shambles,â€ he said.