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Jonathan Not In Hurry To Pick VP

By By Muyiwa Adeyemi, Lagos and Madu Onuorah, Abuja   |   07 May 2010   |   10:00 pm  

* Power Brokers Favour Yayale Ahmed
* President May Visit Yar’Adua Family Today

THOUGH the lobby to fill the vacant office of the nation’s Vice President has intensified in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan is apparently not yet in a hurry to pick anybody to work with him in that capacity. But new power brokers in Abuja are said to have favoured the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Alhaji Yayale Ahmed to fill the vacant post.

However, in a swift reaction, the SGF has denied being nominated for the number two office.

Sources last night said the President had not given attention to discussion on who becomes the Vice President until after seven-day mourning period declared for the late President Musa Yar’Adua who died in the Presidential Villa on Wednesday after a protracted illness.

It was also learnt that President Jonathan will today pay a condolence visit to Yar’Adua’s family in Katsina.

Jonathan who has been at the Aguda House residence originally allocated to the Vice President has been receiving condolences from eminent Nigerians who are coming to commensurate with him on the death of President Yar’Adua.

Top among the visitors yesterday were the trio of three former leaders – Gen Yakubu Gowon, President Shehu Shagari and Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Gowon, who spoke on behalf of the trio said: “We came to condole and congratulate the President.” Asked on what areas they thought President Jonathan should concentrate, Gowon said, “he should concentrate on electoral reform for credible elections for 2011.”

Along with the President at the Aguda House residence are top government functionaries and aides.

Ahmed said that he remained resolute on doing his job correctly

He said: “I am not aware of anything. My policy in life is that if I am in a position, I justify the position I am in because that is what God has asked me to do. Any other higher position, whether it will come or not, depends on God. I have not been doing anything to really get distracted or out of focus for selfish reasons, which is why I remained resolute during the period of crisis because I am supposed to do that. If I did it for the purpose of selfish interest, I would have failed. My position up till now is that I am the SGF (Secretary to the Government of the Federation). And anything that must be done correctly must be done. Any other position, I do not think of it. When it comes, whether higher or lower, I adjust.”

The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Vincent Ogbulafor, who was at the Aguda House residence with officials of the party told journalists that it was too early for anyone to speculate about a possible Vice Presidential nominee as President Yar’Adua had just been buried.

Ogbulafor also said that the party was not going to dabble in the nomination process for a Vice President, noting that it was securely within the competence of the President to handle.

He told journalists after a meeting with President Jonathan: “I think it is too early (to talk about a candidate for Vice President). We will flow with President Goodluck Jonathan and he is ready. At least, he has declared seven days national mourning for President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Let’s respect the dead. After that, we can now talk of the Vice President.”

On the speculations that Ahmed may have been nominated, Ogbulafor stated: “I am happy you say they are speculations. And we don’t work on speculations.” Asked if the PDP had decided on the zone the Vice President would come from, Ogbulafor said an emphatic ‘no’. “The party has not taken a decision. I said, let’s respect the dead. The President has declared seven days of mourning and all the flags in this country are flowing at half-mast.

We have lost somebody who is dear to us, who has served this country. We expect all Nigerians to pray for the repose of his soul. It was only yesterday (Thursday) we buried him. And we can’t be talking about anything today. We leave it to the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to handle the matter.”

Receiving three former leaders, Jonathan said that he was grateful for their prayers and goodwill, adding that, “your immense contribution and support to stabilize the country during the trying period is highly commendable.”

The President told them that his major responsibility now is to conduct credible elections in 2011.

He noted that Nigerians and the international community were worried about the nation’s commitment to free and fair elections and “I therefore have the task of proving that the process can be better.”

He solicited continuous counsel from the former leaders in the period left for the administration to accomplish its mandate.

Speaking on behalf of the former leaders Gowon said their mission was twofold, first to condole with him on the death of President Yar’Adua and also congratulate him on his emergence as President and Commander – in – Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Gowon promised the President their support to ensure that he succeeds in the enormous tasks and responsibility to make progress in the country.

“Whatever we see and hear that will advance the cause of the country, we will let you know,” he said.

Gowon extended the regrets of former leaders Olusegun Obasanjo, Momammadu Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida who did not make the trip as they were out of the country.



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