Saturday, April 28, 2007

American & British Governments Say They Will Work With Nigerian President-Elect Umaru Musa Yar'Adua

UK,US: We’ll Support Yar’Adua

Nigeria ThisDay

Britain and the United States of America at the weekend indicated their readiness to work with the President-elect, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to foster the country's development.

While Britain spoke through the leader of its House of Lords, Baroness Valerie Amos, the United States in a statement by the Department of States stated that it is "prepared to work with Nigeria's next administration in building upon our excellent bilateral relations and to continue the promotion of peace and security throughout Africa."

Amos, at a lecture titled "Better Future in Africa," organised by the Oxford and Cambridge Club of Nigeria in Lagos said: "Nigerians should not expect a perfect election, but what is important is that the country is moving forward in terms of democratic development.''

She advised Nigerians to always think positively of their elected leaders.

Amos, who is also a cabinet minister, said the British Government had been collaborating with African leaders, particularly in the strengthening of the education sector in the various countries.

"If we think we can put money into the development of the education sector of some African countries that we consider should be able to effectively access them, the British Government would certainly go for it," she said.

To this end, she identified Tanzania as one of the beneficiaries of such funding. The baroness, however, advised African leaders to focus more on education. "Do as best as you can to educate your people," she advised.

The US statement, entitled "Nigeria's Elections'', was signed by the State Department's deputy spokesman Tom Casey and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on Saturday.

"We also look forward to helping it implement international recommendations for improving the preparation, administration and conduct of future elections in Nigeria," it said.

It, however, expressed regrets that Nigeria missed an opportunity to strengthen an element of its democracy through "a sound electoral process''.

"Analysis of the process by most international observers does not conform to what Nigeria's national electoral commission has reported and there are credible reports of malfeasance and vote rigging in some constituencies," it added.

"The scope of violence that occurred also was regrettable.

Overall, the process was seriously flawed. In spite of these significant shortcomings, the commitment of ordinary Nigerians to democracy remains noteworthy.''

The U.S. government praised those Nigerians who adhered to the democratic process by exercising their right to vote.

It, therefore, urged all Nigerians to eschew violence or any other extra-constitutional actions that would foster insecurity and hamper political dialogue.

"We also commend those political party leaders who are urging their supporters to remain calm and peaceful notwithstanding disappointment with the conduct of the election,'' the statement stated.

"A peaceful, constitutional, and civilian-controlled resolution of challenges to the electoral results is vital for the growth of democracy in Nigeria.

"Whatever the outcome of legal challenges to the electoral results, we are encouraged that on May 29 Nigeria will experience its first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power," he said.

The US government's official position as represented by the State Department's statement contradicted the campaign by Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman of Foreign Relations Sub-committee on Africa that want Nigeria's Yar'Adua not to be recognised by the US.

Senator Feingold in a statement released to the media by his office yesterday said “Obasanjo’s leadership over the last eight years has been called into question by the failure of efforts to reform Nigeria’s electoral system and combat political corruption.

"The Administration should not legitimise this election as doing so would undermine our commitment to good governance and transparency, and to building strong democracies,.

“What could have been an historic election in Nigeria was instead a disappointing repeat of the past. Nigerian polls were marred by widespread reports of fraud, irregularities, intimidation, and violence.

“I commend the hard work of international and local monitors, who rejected this election and recognised the numerous flaws that have undermined any credible democratic process,” the Senator said.

President-elect to form unity govt

From Alifa Daniel and Nkechi Onyedika, Abuja
Nigerian Guardian

THE president-elect, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, may not have used the words, but his mood was that of "no victor, no vanquished."

Though he may not have received congratulatory messages from his co-contestants on his victory, he was optimistic last night that some would reach out to him soon, while he too hoped to do the same.

The president-elect has also pledged to form a government of national unity.

At a world press conference yesterday in Abuja, Yar'Adua, who was flanked by party officials, some out-going governors and governors-elect, described the election and his victory as a most historic day in the nation's democratic journey. He observed that in accepting the people's verdict, he was most humbled and challenged by the enormous responsibility bestowed on him.

Beaming with smiles and egged on by an applauding group of public office holders and jobbers, Yar'Adua stressed that with God on his side and the unequivocal support of Nigerians, his administration would make a remarkable success.

Before Yar'Adua entered the conference hall of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters, Legacy House, and as the rains poured, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Dora Akunyili, declared: "Who says God is not God? At the end of the day, our labours were not in vain."

Yar'Adua extended hands of fellowship to opponents who contested the election with him, urging them to forget their differences and join hands with him to build a proud and great nation.

His words: "The contest has come and gone, so must our differences be over in the course of building our dear nation. I wish to thank my opponents in the presidential election. You are all respected Nigerians and leaders in your own right. I do believe that your participating in the exercise was driven by a strong faith in Nigeria and your belief that you have what it takes to move Nigeria to the next level. And, I want all Nigerians belonging to other political parties to join hands with the PDP to work hard in order to move this country ahead. We have a great task, and we need all hands on deck."

He commended Nigerians and party faithful, stressing that their commitment, courage and abiding faith in the Nigeria project made his victory possible.

He said: "On behalf of the Vice President-elect and I, I express our profound gratitude to all Nigerians for their unprecedented support expressed through their votes as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cutting across all barriers, ethnic, religious, political, age and gender. It is our utmost hope that this translates into sustained support for our dream of national development."

Yar'Adua urged all Nigerians to join hands with his administration to put the country on a solid foundation which, he said, the present administration had laid towards achieving the collective goal of leaving for the future generation a Nigeria that is better, stronger, more peaceful, more secure and more prosperous.

The president-elect pledged that his government would tackle the Niger Delta issue in a holistic manner by embarking on overall development of the region, in conjunction with all stakeholders in the area as well as address all criminal activities throughout the country.

Yar'Adua pledged to discharge his duty with utmost responsibility and sense of duty, adding that he would be guided by absolute adherence to the Nigerian Constitution and the manifesto of the ruling PDP.

On the proposed protest by the opposition members who have rejected the results of the election, Yar'Adua said: " I have not heard of any protests across the length and breath of the country, so it is really not for me. I did not conduct the election. People have their own opinions; everybody expressed an opinion; other people believe this is one of the best elections this country ever conducted. Opinions differ and we are having a democracy and everybody and anybody, individuals and groups are free to express their opinion. That is what I think."

Several bottles of champagne and wine were brought into the conference hall after the president-elect concluded his briefing.

Victorious Yar'Adua Reaches Out to Opposition

The Nation (Nairobi)
April 24, 2007

By Njeri Rugene

Nigerian President-elect Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has extended an olive branch to his two bitter rivals and announced plans to form a government of national unity.

Referring to key opposition rivals Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar as "my gracious brothers" the soft spoken devout Muslim said his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had a history of working with other parties in a government of national unity, and he was calling upon the losers to join his new administration.

"The contest has come and gone. So should our differences. You are all respectable and respected leaders of Nigeria. You have what it takes to move Nigeria to the next level of development. With the elections now behind us, I urge you to join hands with us as we seek to build our country," he said.

His gesture of reaching out to the opposition was widely seen as a move to assert his independence, in the face of criticism he would be an Obasanjo puppet.

The 56-year-old outgoing Katsina governor has in many occasions during the campaigns been forced to shrug off the criticism, arguing he was his own man and he intended to remain as such through out his four year term.

At the news conference he called on Monday night to thank Nigerians for giving him "this unprecedented support" Mr Yar'Adua appealed to Nigerians to allow for a healing process, to cure the country from major politically instigated ethnic and political differences in the last few years.

"Our collective goal is to leave a legacy - to build a prosperous, secure and better Nigeria for our children. We have a great task ahead and we need all hands, " he said, acknowledging that the task of leading Nigeria was "an enormous responsibility."

AC Sweeps Polls in Lagos

Daily Champion (Lagos)
April 24, 2007

ACTION Congress (AC) swept the National Assembly election yesterday as it won all the 18 Federal Constituencies seats and the only senatorial seat declared.

Announcing the result, the Independent National Electoral Commission Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Mr. Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, said Senator Olorunimbe Adeleke Mumora won the Lagos East senatorial seat with 117,124 votes while Senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Lanre Rasaq, came second with 92,949.

However, election to the House of Representatives in seven Federal Constituencies are to be rerun on Thursday.

According to Mr Soyebi, House of Representatives election in Ifako-Ijaiye was cancelled for the non inclusion of the name of the Democratic Peoples Alliacne (DPA) candidate's name and their party logo on the ballot paper.

He said the election would be held on Thursday together with those of Etiosa, Ibeju-Lekki, Kosofe, Ojo, and Amuwo-Odofun, stressing that the elections could not hold inthose councils due to the omission of parties logos or candidates' names or both.

He said the senatorial election in Lagos West and central would also hold on Thursday.

While adjudging the exercise as successful and violence free, the REC insisted that those parties or candidates that felt aggrieved with outcome of the election, should fee free to go to the Election Petition Tribunal.

However, the agent of the PDP , Chief Babatinde Daramola said the party would issue a statement after collating the results obtained from the entire wards in Lagos by their agents, stressing that they would contest the governorship election at the Election Petition Tribunal.

Atiku Remains VP

Daily Champion (Lagos)
April 24, 2007
By Malachy Uzendu

Supreme Court yesterday ruled that President Olusegun Obasanjo has no constitutional powers to remove Vice-President Atiku Abubakar except by a method prescribed by the constitution.

The court also ruled that Alhaji Abubakar shall complete his tenure and only vacate office on May 29, 2007 .The court in arriving at the verdict also dismissed federal government's appeal against Atiku's continued stay in office and affirmed the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal which had declared that neither the President nor the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the power to declare Atiku's seat vacant.

Full panel of seven justices of the apex court in a lead judgment presented by Justice Olufemi Akintan said that it has no powers to remove Atiku whom it maintained can only be impeached by the National Assembly or through other constitutionally prescribed means.

Justice Akintan's lead judgment was read by Justice Ikechi Ogbuagu yesterday. Owing to the absence of Justice Akintan from the court for undisclosed reasons.

To arrive at this judgment, the court noted that the office of the Vice President was creation of the 1999 constitution, stressing that the appointment/removal of a serving Vice President was specified under the constitution.

Justice Akintan stated that despite political party affiliation, both the Vice President and the president should maintain the same (official) relationship while their tenure lasted. "I believe that the President and the Vice should maintain the same relationship through out their duration. The (Atiku's) term has not expired and he (Atiku) can not be removed from office except by impeachment by the National Assembly" "I hereby dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the court below" Justice Akintan and other justices ruled concurrently.

By this verdict, the protracted legal tussle over Atiku's seat, had been laid to rest paving way for him to join the Action Congress (AC) from his former party the PDP and still remain in office with the president with whom he went into office in the same party.

Atiku's continued stay in office as Vice-President became controversial sequel to his defection from ruling PDP to the Action Congress (AC) through which he contested the April 21 presidential poll .Reacting to the judgment yesterday, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), leading counsel to the Vice President expressed gratitude to the court stating that the decision vindicated the position of his client ."The judgment has vindicated our client.

The Supreme Court declared that it has no powers to order him out of office, " he stated.

On the other hand, Mr. Bankole Akomolafe from Afe Babalola
(SAN) chambers, who are counsel to the federal government in the matter said that both the court and the parties counsel did their best in determining the position of law in that respect.

Immediately Atiku decamped to the AC, government moved to remove him through the statements credited to Mallam Uba Sani, the president's Special Adviser on Public Affairs, promoting the Vice-President to run to the court seeking an interpretation of the constitutional interpretation on his tenure of office.

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