Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nigerian News Update: Why Yar'Adua Changed Gear on Jonathan

Why Yar’Adua Changed Gear on Jonathan

Meeting with Turai takes place

Governors, PDP condemn troops deployment

From Chuks Okocha and George Orji in Abuja, 02.27.2010

Fresh facts have emerged as to why President Umaru Yar’Adua conceded the acting presidency to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, which led to the clarification provided Thursday by the presidential spokesman, Olusegun Adeniyi that Jonathan remains the acting president and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

THISDAY learnt that following Adeniyi’s pronouncement on Wednesday in which he said the “president has directed the vice president should continue to run the affairs of the state” while he (Yar’Adua) is recuperating, the statement was said to have stirred the hornet’s nest and created uncertainty as to who was steering the ship of state.

This prompted the governors’ caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, and the leadership of the party to move swiftly to douse the tension the statement from the presidency had created.

It was gathered that the governors of Bauchi State; Isa Yuguda, Kwara, Bukola Saraki; Kebbi, Ibrahim Dakingari; Katsina, Ibrahim Shema; and Gombe, Danjuma Goje, moved swiftly with the leadership of the PDP and Hon. Bankole to meet with the president’s aides to explain the implication of the divisive statement and get them to reverse it promptly.

During the meeting which also had the president’s wife, Turai Yar’Adua in attendance, the governors and members of the party ironed out issues and counselled the president’s aides to issue a clarification so as not to exacebate the already tense atmosphere in the country.

The governors and PDP leadership further told the president’s wife and his men that failure to reverse the statement will compel the party to issue a counter statement contradicting the president.

Sources in the presidency explained that for the governors it was important to have the issue sorted out immediately because prior to the arrival of the president, there was an agreement reached with Yar’Adua, on the one hand, and the PDP governors’ caucus and the National Working Committee of the party, on the other, that the acting president would continue to act, while the president comes back home to recuperate fully from his illness.

“But following the infl-ammatory statement, the PDP governor and party leadership were said to have been alarmed, and met with Turai and the president’s aides, and advised that a correction be made,” said one official.

According to the official: “The meeting was meant to douse tension and correct the wrong impression that had been created by the statement.

“It was imperative because the impression had been created that there was a rift in the presidency which was not the case, as both Yar’Adua and Goodluck had been elected on the same ticket.

“So the governors of Bauchi, Kwara, Kebbi, Gombe, Katsina and the Speaker of the House of Representatives met on Wednesday night with the wife of the president, Turai and others to iron out issues.

During the meeting with Turai and the president’s men, another issue that was brought to the fore was the deployment of troops into the streets of Abuja in the wee hours of Wednesday morning without the consent of the acting president.

Sources allege that it may have been the Aide-de-Camp to the President, Colonel Mustapha Onoyiveta who directed the Brigade of Guards to move troops without recourse to his superiors in the army and the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

The PDP leadership and the governors were said to be very concerned by the development and impressed it on the president’s handlers that by that singular action, the entire democratic institution could have been undermined because of the illegal order.

They demanded that the close aide(s) of the president that gave the order be reprimanded, insisting that “it was unconstitutional and illegal to move out troops without the prior knowledge of the Commander-in-Chief, who is presently Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.”

They called for an investigation into how the troops were moved without the necessary official permission.

It was gathered that the governors also privately prevailed on Turai to set up a meeting between the president and the acting president as soon as possible.

As at the time of this report, Jonathan and Yar’Adua were yet to have a one and one meeting.

However, the acting president was said to have met with Turai Yar’Adua Thursday night to welcome the First Family back and pay condolences to her as a result of her ailing husband.

Turai was said to have thanked the acting president and informed him that the president was upstairs resting from his trip but will be accessible once he is able to receive visitors.

Prior to the Thursday night meeting, officials conversant with the meeting disclosed that only Hajia Turai, the Chief Security Officer to the President, Yusuf Tilde, and his ADC have access to the president.

In a related development, as a sign that Jonathan is asserting his authority, he briefed presidency staff yesterday on how he intends to

Presidency officials said "it was a meeting to harmonise the two offices, the president's office and the VP's office to work as one presidency.” There was no official statement after the meeting.

Meanwhile Adeniyi yesterday shed more light on the president’s medical report said to have been sent to the acting president.
Adeniyi stated that only one medical report was sent to Dr. Jonathan penultimate Friday, February 19 as opposed to numerous reports as was reported in the media.

Adeniyi had on Thursday while providing clarification on the president’s directive that Jonathan remains the acting president and Commander-in-Chief, added that Jonathan had received Yar’Adua’s medical report while the latter was away in Saudi Arabia.

Adeniyi denied newspaper reports that the acting president was receiving regular briefing on the health of the president while he was away.

According to Adeniyi, “further to my interview with State House correspondents yesterday, I wish to clarify that only one medical report on President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was sent to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan by the chief physician to the president, Dr Salisu Banye, through the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. This was on Friday, February 19, 2010.

“The Acting President has not received any other medical report before or after that date,” he said.

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