Acting Presidency: Invoke Constitution, Niger Delta women tell N'Assembly

THIS DAY Newspaper- Sufuyan Ojeifo

Niger Delta Women Forum has called on the National Assembly to invoke relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution to transfer presidential powers to the Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as Acting President even as another group from the geo-political zone warned against military take over or harm coming to the number two citizen.

The Niger Delta Women Forum made their position known in a press statement issued by the Forum’s National Coordinator/President, Mrs. Esther Uduehi, at the end of a routine general meeting at the weekend.

The Forum said that the National Assembly should put “partisan politics aside and rise to save the democratic existence of Nigeria by invoking the various sections of the Constitution and taking immediate action to transfer power to the Vice-President by ordering the swearing in of the Vice President as Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander in Chief of the Armed forces.”

Their position is coming on the heels of call by yet another group, Yar’Adua-Goodluck 7-Point Agenda Alliance Crusade (YAGOSPAC) that irrespective of the position of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is still fit to continue in office, Jonathan should wake up to the responsibilities accorded him by the 1999 Constitution.

The group led by Michael Ekamon in a press conference held in Abuja yesterday said: “Having observed subterranean moves by disgruntled persons and enemies of democracy to stampede the institution of governance into unconstitutionalities, we equally urge Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to wake up to his responsibilities because he is the Vice-President and when the President is not around, he should take charge. If he had done this, the current crisis would have been averted.”

“That President Yar’Adua did not communicate his absence to the National Assembly as enjoined by section 145 of the 1999 constitution is not an issue,” it said, stressing that, “even if the Vice President is not designated Acting President and if any Minister disobeys him, he should sack the person. He has all the powers, all he need do is to exercise it”.

The group further observed that, “constitution or no constitution, Mr. Vice President should take charge, what s right is right; even if the constitution does not expressly state it, common sense provides that if Mr. President is not around, his Deputy should act, that is the appropriate thing to do”

“By the interpretation of section 144 of the 1999 constitution the Federal Executive Council has neither legal nor expertise powers to give President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua a clean bill of health. FEC is neither an assemblage of medical experts with expertise powers to do so nor an assemblage people vested with legal powers to say the President is medically okay, the group maintained.

In a related development, the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) rose from its emergency roundtable weekend in Port Harcourt, warning that no harm must befall Vice-President Good Luck Jonathan, whom they said has kept to constitutional provisions of the country.

They also made a clarion call for all to rise against any military take over as was being speculated in the country while it urging all ethnic nationalities to convene mini conferences to harmonise their position on the relationship that will exist within the component parts presently called Nigeria.
UNDESS, which had a broad consultation comprising Arewa Youths Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo and Afenifere and chaired by Alabo Tonye Graham Douglas put the tentative date for the Sovereign National Confe-rence where the future of the country would be determined middle of this year.

The forum used the opportunity to warn that what presently obtains in the Niger Delta was a peace of the graveyard capable of exploding with unpleasant consequences any moment and urged Jonathan to ensure that all agencies saddled with the prosecution of the amnesty programme of the government should swing to action to salvage the already sagging image of the government on the issue.

“All ethnic nationalities should urgently commence the process of convening their own “mini-conferences”, with an aim to working out a charter for a Pan Nigerian Sovereign Conference, before the middle of 2010; which confe-rence is the only means to a sustainable democratic Nigeria where all units are respected and would have spelt out how best all units could live together, bearing in mind that when Nigeria was formed in 1914 the various ethnic nationalities were not consulted”, the group said.

“There is now, even more than ever before, the need for the peoples of the Niger Delta to be united at this critical moment of a contrived constitutional crisis, if they are to take their rightful places as first-class citizens of a Nigerian Federation based on the rule-of-law, justice, equity, peace and development;

“Nothing untoward (on any dimension) should happen to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, who has so far obeyed the Constitution whilst, in “loyalty” President Umaru Yar’Adua, bearing all the indignities heaped on him, especially in the last sixty-plus days of national anomie.

“Any attempt by ANY group or persons to further undermine, or overthrow, the Nigerian Constitution must be robustly challenged by every citizen of this nation, employing every legitimate means, channels and platforms, at national and global levels”, parts of the communiqué read.

They commended the Senate for their action though belated on the issue of ensuring adherence to the 1999 Constitution but regretted the lack luster attitude of the House of Representatives which it asked to wake from its slumber and ensure that the will of the people towered above personal considerations.

The Federal Executive Council also came under the vitriolic searchlight of the roundtable which berated them as lacking in thickness of fiber to speak the truth, wondering how they arrived at the conclusion that the President who has been bedridden and confessed to hope to leave hospital when his Doctors confirm him fit was fit enough to carry out his duties.

They agreed that enough was enough with the toying of the future of the country by politicians and insisted that Jonathan should in accordance with the provisions of Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution be made to take over the reigns of power as Acting President for peace to reign.

For smoother elections in the country, they called for the implementation of the Justice Uwais reports on electoral reforms while also, the white paper of the Niger Delta Technical Committee be published and implemented instead of setting up other committees to do nothing but waste time.

“All monies owed the Niger Delta through debts owed/calculated shortchanging of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the still-dormant Federal Ministry of the Niger Delta be immediately paid-up in full, and in accordance with the laws setting up these bodies [which, in tandem with the over-procrastinating Post-Amnesty Committee, are saddled with the primary mandate of fast-tracking infrastructural and human development in the still-neglected region”, they said.


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