Traditional rulers reach out to Yar'Adua's group over Jonathan

THE NATION Newspaper- Yusuf Alli and Jide Babalola

Disturbed by the tension in the country over the continuos absence of President Umaru Yar’adua over ill health, prominent Emirs and traditional rulers in the North have reached out to some members of the kitchen cabinet of President Umaru Yar’Adua on the need to comply with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution and handover to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan.

It was however learnt that the royal fathers might still meet with Jonathan on the fears of the pro-Yar’Adua’s camp and how to restore confidence in the cabinet.

Loyalists of President Yar’Adua however yesterday began a mass mobilisation effort aimed at drumming support for his continued leadership of the country irrespective of his ailing health.

The group made up of the President’s kitchen cabinet, is bent on resisting any attempt to hand over power to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. The slogan of the new group in ‘Yar Adua Must Stay.’

The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, and some state governors also reportedly held a marathon meeting in Abuja on Friday night over the state of affairs.

The Nation

learnt that some Emirs and traditional rulers met in Kaduna at the weekend on the state of the nation and resolved to prevail on members of the kitchen cabinet to ask the President to transmit a letter to the National Assembly .

A highly-placed source said: "The Emirs have been reaching out to members of the kitchen cabinet and other confidants of the President on the need to handover to Jonathan.

"Although members of the kitchen cabinet have clung to the court pronouncements, the Emirs are banking on political exigency. They asked pro-Yar’Adua men to bow to the wish of eminent Nigerians in the interest of the nation’s democracy.

"They do not want a situation whereby the political stalemate will degenerate to a North-South crisis.

"The Emirs also may reach out to the Vice-President on the fears of the Yar’Adua’s camp and the need to keep the nation united.

"In fact, one of the royal fathers was delegated to have an audience with the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa(SAN) on the way forward."

The source, who refused to release the list of Emirs and royal fathers at the meeting, said: " They are already liaising with all relevant stakeholders, including the Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF)."

To sustain the Yar’Adua Must Stay campaign, special invitees considered critical in whittling down the intense criticisms from a section of the public were yesterday night invited for a meeting at Sheraton Hotel in Abuja by the loyalist group. A serving Minister is said to be the brain behind the meeting.

Aside from the mass mobilisation being planned to drum support for the President’s continued stay in office, key politicians, including serving and former members of the National Assembly are being wooed to support the "Yar’Adua Must Stay’ agenda.

To find a way out of the political logjam, the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki of Kwara State on Friday night met secretly with some governors in Abuja.

According to a source in Abuja, Saraki had allegedly abandoned a funeral programme of a close relation in Lagos to fly to Abuja for the emergency meeting.

The source said: "The governors at the meeting were drawn from different parties. The secret parley may prepare the ground for the final position of the Governors’ Forum on the situation in the country".

"They deliberately refused to make the meeting an open one to the media in view of the sensitive nature of the issue at hand.

As at press time, it was difficult to ascertain the outcome of the secret meeting of the governors.

But the source said: "The state of the nation was one of the issues discussed. The governors have left Abuja for their various destinations."


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