PDP denies meeting Jonathan over Yar’Adua’s successor
In a statement yesterday by its National Secretary, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkai, the PDP described the report, which appeared in the media (not The Guardian), as baseless and mischievous.
“Our attention has been drawn to reports in some sections of the media insinuating that the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, along with other members of the National Working Committee have been meeting with the Vice President, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, specifically to discuss an imaginary succession plan in the government of Nigeria. We wish to state categorically that this report is baseless, uninformed and mischievous as the PDP leadership is not aware of, neither is it involved in any so called succession plan in whatever form or guise,” the statement said.
The party said consultation between its National Working Committee (NWC) and the vice president on matters relating to the PDP were normal because he holds some sensitive positions in its affairs.
It went on: “For the avoidance of doubt, the National Working Committee indeed consults the Vice President who is a distinguished party leader and indefatigable statesman in his own right on a regular basis. We also wish to state the obvious fact that the Vice President has been serving the party meritoriously in various capacities. For instance, he led the campaign that returned Governor Segun Oni to Government House Ado-Ekiti last year. He is also the Chairman of the Fund Raising/Building Committee of the new national secretariat of our party. Currently, he is spearheading our campaign to win the governorship elections in Anambra State scheduled for February next year.
“All these positions he occupies both in the leadership of the country and the party require a regular interface with the party leadership for constant consultations. A meeting with the Vice President especially when some of the party assignments he is currently handling are still ongoing is therefore not unusual,” the party said.
The party said the report was part of the agenda to paint a picture of disunity in PDP and vowed to disappoint the people behind it.
The PDP added: “Information available to us shows that this clandestine report is part of a larger plot to cause disaffection and disharmony within the rank and file of the PDP.
“We wish to assure those involved in this unwholesome activity that such surreptitious moves will continue to fail as the party and the entire nation is determined to resolutely stand by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as we continue to pray for his quick recovery and safe return from Saudi Arabia.”
But in another statement the G-53 which recently drew Nigerians’ attention to the “unhealthy development of Yar’Adua going on medical trip abroad without handing over to the Vice President as stipulated by the Constitution,” sympathised with the President, wishing him quick recovery.
The G-53 recalled asking the President to consider it a patriotic duty to resign and allow his deputy to carry on the business of state.
It went on: “Quite a number of developments have taken place since our call which have vindicated our stand that Nigeria should not totter on without a head:
- The 2009 Supplementary Appropriation Bill addressing critical issues in the Niger Delta among others and duly passed by the National Assembly cannot be signed into law because of the absence of the President;
- The amnesty programme being personally co-ordinated by the President has run into a hitch and has led to protests by former militants and resumption of hostilities by Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND);
- The 2009 National Honours cannot be conferred because the office of the President is not functioning;
- The appointments of the new President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice of Nigeria have been confirmed but they would not be able to assume office because their oath of office that should constitutionally be administered by the President cannot be carried out in his absence. Technically, very soon two out of the three arms of government would not be headed by constitutionally recognised heads;
- Though we are aware that the Federal Executive Council has been meeting under Vice President Goodluck Jonathan but by virtue of Section 148 of the 1999 Constitution which says only the President can preside over such meetings, contractors who are taking approvals from such meetings are running a risk as decisions taken at such meetings are void and illegal;
- Critical meetings of ECOWAS of which our president is chairman have been cancelled. Of particular note were the meetings on Niger and Guinea where the constitutions of both countries have been suspended by dictators.
The G-53 added: “In the light of the foregoing, we call on President Yar’Adua to immediately comply with Section 145 of the constitution which requires him to write to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives that he has proceeded on medical vacation so that the Vice President can assume presidential powers and run the country while he is away.
“We do not think this country should carry on this way beyond the next seven days.”
The statement was signed for the Steering Committee of G-53 by Yinka Odumakin, Osita Okechukwu and Buba Galadima.
On the issue of President’s health, the AC renewed its call on the Federal Government to give Nigerians a daily update on Yar’Adua’s health to stem the growing rumours on the matter.
In a statement in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the current situation, whereby ministers and aides of the President give out uncoordinated information on his health, is doing more harm than good.
The AC said: ”It is clear to discerning Nigerians that those pretending to speak authoritatively on the President’s health are deceiving the public, since they are neither well informed on the issue nor competent to speak on it.
“Therefore, a daily briefing by the Minister of Information, based on authentic details provided by the President’s doctors, should start forthwith. As we have said many times, the health of the President – as a public figure – can no longer be of interest only to his family and friends. Nigerians have a right to know.”
The party also called on the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the only body constitutionally empowered to start the process of determining whether or not the President can continue in office on the basis of his health, to rise above mundane considerations and put the nation’s interest first.
It continued: “Nigeria is at now a standstill, just because the President did not hand over to his deputy before his departure and the FEC has failed to take its constitutional role seriously.
“We are daily bombarded with the obvious falsehood that the machinery of government is running well in the absence of the President; and that he can even rule from Mars if he chooses to do so. But the reality on the ground is that things are not alright.
“Already, the fragile peace in the Niger Delta has started unravelling just because the President is not around. On Saturday, MEND attacked a crude oil pipeline in Rivers, in what it called a ‘warning’ strike. The group said the attack was to send a signal that the peace and development of the oil region cannot be held hostage by the President’s sickness. Is that an indication of a government machinery that is working?
“The 2009 supplementary bill cannot be signed into law because of the President’s absence. Now, the National Assembly has introduced an absurdity into the whole issue by saying it will override the President’s ‘veto’ of the bill. It is only when the President has consciously refused to sign a bill that the issue of veto can come up, not when he is not in a position to decide whether to sign the bill or not. Is this confusion the sign of a government machinery that is working?”
The party added that the “FEC may have misunderstood the award of contracts – which is what it does at its weekly meeting – for a government that is working. No! For a government to run properly, it takes more that the award of suspicious contracts by a cabinet that lacks any supervision! A cabinet of ‘Yes Men’!”