South-South and Jonathan

VANGUARD Newspaper- Emma Amaize

Has S-Southdumped Jonathan?
SOUTH-SOUTH Governors and a number of prominent leaders of the zone have unusually chosen to keep mum rather than speak their minds and that of the people on the burning issue of whether or not Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who hails from the zone should take over as Acting President from ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who will be spending his 54th day today (January 16) in a Saudi Arabia hospital.

Investigations by Saturday Vanguard showed that the attitude of the governors and some of the powerful leaders was not unconnected with the fear that they would attract the wrath of President Yar’Adua and the power cabal at Abuja if they openly declare support for Dr. Jonathan to take over as acting president.

But there is a great concern in the region over the stand of the governors and leaders, as the interpretation many gave to their action was that they decided to sacrifice the interest of the South-South and dump Dr. Jonathan because of their personal political interests.

Yesterday, the first civilian governor of Edo state, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, former national chairman of the Association of Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities Organization of Nigeria (ATROMPCON), His Royal Majesty, Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu, coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG), Comrade Joseph Evah, chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) in Delta state, Barrister Oghenejabor Ikimi and other Niger-Deltans challenged the governors, South-South leaders and the entire country to speak out and do the right thing. Governorship candidate of the People Redemption Party (PRP) in the 2007 governorship elections in Delta state, Engineer Emmanuel Odafe Igbini told Saturday Vanguard that Vice President Jonathan should not take over from Yar’Adua and gave reasons for his exceptional position.

We’re not scared – Govs A source close to the governors who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on the condition of anonymity said, “It’s a dicey situation the governors found themselves and they ’re only being careful as politicians because what you say today can be used against you tomorrow”.

He added, “Even the Vice President who people are saying the governors should fight for to become acting president is standing aloof because he knows the implication of any scheming to become acting president. He knows what happened to the former SSG, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe when Yar’Adua returned and found out certain things. So, why do you want the South-South governors to stick out our necks and run into trouble?”

According to him, “It’s not correct to say the governors are afraid, that’s not the issue here – they are only being tactical as politicians in making statements and taking position on the matter. In conjunction with other governors, five of them in the PDP, last week, and declared their support for Jonathan. They know there will be a constitutional breach if the matter is not attended to quickly and would want the constitution to be followed, but, they have to tread carefully as politicians”.

Clark keeps sealed lipSaturday Vanguard contacted the leader of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Chief Edwin Clark on Thursday but one of his aides said, “Chief is not willing to speak on the matter you have just mentioned, so you can please leave him out of it”.

It was gathered that Chief Clark did not want his comments to be misinterpreted, hence his decision to keep silent and watch the unfolding events on the matter.

A monarch’s worry A monarch, Pere Ayemi-Botu also thinks the Federal High Court, Abuja has clarified the matter with its ruling and that Dr. Jonathan has the imprimatur to act as president, whether there was a formal letter to the National Assembly to do so or otherwise.

The royal father was, however, at a loss over why President Yar’Adua did not transmit such an important letter to the National Assembly, noting that even if it was vacation that the president had taken for such a period, he knows that the legitimate thing to do was to inform the National Assembly so that the vice president would be empowered to act as president during the period.

The monarch opined that it was not too late for President Yar’Adua to officially notify the National Assembly of his absence so that Dr. Jonathan could rightfully be declared as acting president.

He said a lot of things, including the Federal Government’s post-amnesty programme run into stormy waters as a result of the failure of President Yar’Adua to write the National Assembly, as the vice president was not authorized by virtue of that limitation to take critical decisions.
Political intriguesIt was gathered that there were a lot of political undercurrents in the South-South, which might be responsible for the lean support Dr. Jonathan has recorded so far in the bid to make him acting president. Besides the former governor of Edo state, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun who was part of the eminent Nigerians that called on Yar’Adua to handover to Jonathan as a result of his temporal incapacitation by illness and a few others, leaders of the region have been oddly calm on the matter.

Saturday Vanguard learnt that some powerful politicians from the zone who were not happy that Dr. Jonathan emerged as the choice of the powers- that- be in 2007 as the vice presidential candidate of the party were bent on frustrating anything that would make his political visibility grow larger.

“Their intention is to present Dr. Jonathan as a deadly scheme who wants to take over the job of his boss and they are meticulously studying his every move since Yar’Adua was flown to Saudi Arabia .

Oyegun spits more fire Speaking to Saturday Vanguard on if he had changed his position on Yar’Adua handing over to Jonathan giving the stand of the governors and other political leaders from the zone, Chief Odigie-Oyegun said, “God forbid, changing my position on the matter should be ruled out entirely.

How can I can change my position, I stand by what I said earlier. I have done the right thing by joining other eminent Nigerians to call on President Yar’Adua to transmit a letter to the National Assembly that he is away, either he is on leave, he is ill or on sick leave, whatever it is, for Dr. Jonathan to take over”.

His words, “That is the only alternative; there is no other alternative constitutionally. Those insisting that he should not transmit a letter to the National Assembly as prescribed by law under the present circumstances are creating a national crisis.

In fact, they have already created it and it’s threatening to consume us but I insist Yar’Adua should do the proper thing and let Jonathan take over till he’s back. Nobody is saying that he is not the president but since he is away and not well, the constitution should be implemented”.

He lamented that at the moment, Nigeria was being ruled by appointed officials who have hijacked the Presidency, telling Nigerians what the president has said or has not said. “It is a country where anything goes for now because we are not seeing the president and they tell us whatever they want to say the president said. The other day, they brought a budget, which they claimed he signed, we don’t have the facts up till now”.

“I don’t even know why they are afraid of letting Jonathan to be acting president, are they not all in the same party. We all know the president is not healthy enough to perform his duties, if he gets well and comes back next month (February) for instance, he automatically takes over his job as president, and Jonathan cannot stop him even if he is the acting president at that time.

“On the other hand, even if the worse happens, that is something happening to Yar’Adua, there are media reports that he is brain dead and all that, which we are not praying for, but, assuming something happens in the direction some people are thinking, Jonathan can only be President up till next year (2011) when nomination and election will take place. The party is free to choose who it wants as its presidential candidate. If they want to change Jonathan, they can do it a t that time but for now, let us follow what the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says”, he added.

Court ruling not the answer

Though the Delta CDHR boss, Barrister Ikimi said it was gratifying that the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by the Chief Judge, Justice Dan Abutu ruled on Wednesday that Dr. Jonathan could perform the role of President Yar’Adua as long as remained incapacitated by illness, Comrade Evah argued that the implication of the ruling was that whilst Jonathan could function as President in the absence of Yar’Adua, his actions could be disowned by Yar’Adua if there’s no letter to that effect the National Assembly.

He said the ruling of the court was apposite that Jonathan cannot function as acting president except there is a missive to the National Assembly, which the President has not done or is unwilling to do.

Jonathan, a loyal Deputy
Except for those who have not closely studied Dr. Jonathan, he is not a man that is desperate for power. As deputy governor of Bayelsa state, some years ago, under leadership of Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, he had the opportunity to take over from his former boss, but, he bluntly refused despite the entreaties.

He is one person that is very loyal to his master and that is the main reason he topped the list as Yar’Adua’s deputy. It’s reasonably suspected that former President Olusegun Obasanjo who ensured the emergence of Yar’Adua as the PDP’s presidential candidate at that time endorsed Jonathan, having watched him closely as President for eight years and monitored how he refused to mount the saddle as governor of Bayelsa state even when Alamieyeseigha has been chased out of the state.

Obasanjo reportedly apprised Yar’Adua of his frosty relationship with his erstwhile deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and its reverberating effects on government business and after the sermon on the dependability of Jonathan, Yar’Adua who was more shocked that he was chosen above others as the party’s presidential candidate kow-towed.

To be fair to Obasanjo, his interest in Jonathan as Yar’Adua’s running mate was not a misplaced, as Jonathan is a reliable deputy who would find it difficult to overthrow his master.

However, the vice president has seen through the permutations of the powerful South-South politicians and is taking his time to accept any proposal that tends pushing him to assume the role of acting president without hearing directly from the president himself.

“You can see it from the actions he has taken so far. Even when they gave him the photocopy of a fax letter from Saudi Arabia asking him to assume the duty of president, he read between the lines and rejected the request. It was all a game plan by some people in the group to ensnare him”, a source close to him told Saturday Vanguard on phone, last night.

Undoing S-South
A worried Comrade Evah told Saturday Vanguard, “Those politicians from the South-South who are plotting against Jonathan think they are undoing him but they are wrong, they are undoing the South-South zone, which has the chance of producing a president and maybe, righting some wrongs within the period.

He said, “From what I know of Dr. Jonathan, he is the least perturbed by such antics. He’s not even ready to take over as president. He is prepared to remain as vice president and allow the will of God to take place. And if you watch his political career since he emerged as the deputy governor of Bayelsa state, it has been like that, fate is leading him, he doesn’t struggle for political office – the job comes to him.

So, the best thing is not to work against something that will come to the South-South because Jonathan is there. They are undoing him by doing such things; they are working against our zone”.

3 Responses for “Acting President: S-South and Jonathan!”
abraham sylvanus umoh says:
January 17, 2010 at 5:09 pmwhy are we fighting within ourselves? why are calling ourselves one nation but we can’t speak in one voice or working together as country.
abraham sylvanus umoh says:
January 17, 2010 at 4:55 pmwhy are we as a [COUNTRY] Nigeria deceiving our self that we are practicing democracy-”government of the people for the people and by the people” but one person will have a say and it stand. example, 2007 OBJ says that “Election is do or die affair and it stand nobody oppose it.
Jimmy Salvage says:
January 16, 2010 at 12:17 pmJonathan, the Regional Issue Is Out

Every human being has enemy, Jonathan in his home of the South South is not an exception. What you do as individual to outwit your enemies is only left to you. Those who are silent such as the normally sell out Edwin Clark and the purported enemies at home are only so through cowardice, the usual individual jealousness and selfishness.

OBJ was able to snatch the Presidency away from the South South in 2007 because of all these characters and their characteristics. The only areas in the South South where this neglect of ones’ own will not occur are the Igbo part of Delta State and the entire Edo State. If Jonathan had come from any of these two parts of the South South, he would have now been an acting President. He will not been in this limbo in the fist place let alone being messed about by people like Aondoakaa, his cabal and gang of saboteur.

Whatever are their reasons for not coming openly to support Jonathan, the Niger Delta people are generally not brave and forthright. There is a dependency culture of the people. For example, taken the enormous economic opportunity in their backyard, they prefer cash handout rather than to work, gain more fund, independent and respect.

For most of these it is difficult for the Edo State people and the Delta State Igbo to leapfrog the Niger Delta people to directly rescue Jonathan.

Whichever way you look at the issue today, in the absence of Yar’Adua, the constitution is already with Jonathan. For his person, Jonathan is unable to take the initiative. He is the number two. In the absence of the President, who could have more authority than him?

In my yesterday comment here in the Vanguard, I said;
—- When Yar’Adua refused or was unable to write to the National Assembly, Jonathan should have either drafted the letter himself or directed the SFG to draft the letter and sent it to Yar’Adua on his sick bed to sign it. If the letter was not signed, then Jonathan would have sent it and explained the circumstances to the National Assemble. As the matter was then in the court of the National Assembly, it would have declared Yar’Adua incapacitated, overrode his signature and officially asked Jonathan to take full acting position. ——–

If this step is taken now and Jonathan is acting officially, Yar’Adua is protected from impeachment. He can return to take his office at anytime. But as thing are, if the National Assembly is willing, impartial and wants to uphold the constitution, it can impeach Yar’Adua as he has already committed many impeachable acts. Nevertheless the matter is no longer a regional issue.


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