The Jonathan Presidency: A Call for Caution

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

We have a new “Acting President”, after almost eighty days of delayed tactics, confusion, misinformation and misinterpretation, political chicanery, outright lies and criminal deception, forgery, self interests over national interests, all culminating in a grand farce, such as has never happened in the history of Nigerian politics, and which, based on the repercussions and what we went through, Nigerians would wish and pray never happens again.

Everybody, every Nigerian, seem to heave a sigh of relief, when on Tuesday, 9th February, 2010, the Senate and the House of Representatives in Abuja seemed to have come to recognise the importance of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and now passed a motion recognising Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as the Acting President of Nigeria. The politicians thought they have managed to overcome and resolve an increasingly thorny and embarrassing issue. Everybody will live ever happily after. They thought they have satisfied the cries and demands of the Nigeria people. They said that “expediency and pragmatism” had informed their decision.

But No! What they had done was still illegal, presumptive and they have managed, once again, to hoodwink and cheat the Nigerian people. “Oh yes, we have given the people what they want, and let them rejoice”.

The fact is, the evil, corrupt, barely educated political elite, especially those in the ruling party, PDP, had played a sleight of hand to subvert the rule of law and doing away with the provisions of the constitution. They thought they had fooled us, but because of their own shortcomings as true democrats, unversed in constitutional matters, they failed to reckon, to their peril, the brains of the Nigerian people. What happened on Tuesday was not a resolution; it was more of a reactionary thing.

The state of the nation was in dire straits; the people are restive; protests home and abroad, and even, the conduct of governance was severely affected. The Governors would fail to get their allocations and hence no treasury to loot for the month, while Yar ‘Adua’s aides and so-called kitchen cabinet were insisting that the man was well enough to rule, and according to our Chief Law Officer, Michael Aondoakaa, Yar’Adua could rule from anywhere in the world. (I would like him to give me an example of this in the history of the modern world)

So the inept and corrupt National Assembly based their spurious resolution on the word “transmit” and quickly and cleverly latched on to the fake BBC interview of President Yar ‘Adua. They said the interview “transmitted” to them the incapability of the President to continue ruling the country from his sick bed in Saudi Arabia. See, my people? The BBC is running the country now.

And is that enough? Their resolution was not based even partly on the Constitution, which should have been their guiding manual for the past 80 days. What the Constitution said is that such resolutions must be based on a letter, or any form thereof, sent by the ailing President to the National Assembly, asking for a leave of absence to take care of his health. Yar’Adua obviously did not do this, and this confirms his incapacitation further, thereby a major breach of the constitution has occurred. The next lawful thing to do would have been for the National Assembly to inform the Federal Executive Council to obey Section 144 of the Constitution or perhaps for the National Assembly to impeach him. However, the National Assembly, even given that such situation had never occurred in the history of Nigeria, had chosen to ignore the constitution, or interpreted it to suit its own purpose. Hence, the Constitution has again been subverted.

And please do not forget that the National Assembly only acted when the 36 State Governors decided to walk in on them (mindful of their monthly Allocations); there was a crack in the solidarity of the Federal Ministers who had hitherto been passing legality on the President’s absence; and more importantly, after many civil protests in Abuja, London, New York and even in the Ukraine.

Nigeria is greater that any individual, but unfortunately, our leaders and politicians have never seen it that way. They thing they are greater than the country.

So who the culprits in this matter? Michael Aondoakaa is number one. The man is simply a liar, a forger and a master in disinformation. He is either deliberately deceptive or basically an ignoramus, a charlatan of the learned profession. At best, he is a mediocre. And this is not just by judging him from what happened this time with the absence of the president, but by his past records in his almost 3 years as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation (Please see Paul T Adujie’s article – Michael Aondoakaa, Former AGF Should Be Investigated and Tried –

The man is an embarrassment to Nigeria and the law profession. And see the way he was crudely trying to blackmail his fellow Minister, Dora Akunyinli? The man lacks goodness; he lacks decorum and it was a good thing he was removed immediately as AGF. Better still, he should be sacked, investigated and tried for his role in this Yar ‘Adua farce.

And Mrs Turai Yar ‘Adua? Though she is not elected, the role she’s has played was if she was the President of this country,; she was the head of the kitchen cabinet. How can a wife like that, seeing her husband so sick, still insist on her husband carrying on? I know there are more to it than this. But there she is.

If I were to advice Mr Jonathan, and if the Constitution allows it, I would suggest to him to get rid of all the Ministers, Special Adviser and Assistants that he has inherited from Yar ‘Adua. These are people who insisted that he could not become the Acting president and tried to prolong the inevitable to suit their own nefarious agenda and selfish interests. They will stab him in the back. (This is assuming that President Yar ‘Adua will not be coming back to his throne, and I honestly think he should not come back,; let Jonathan continue the rest of his tenure and if Jonathan decides to run on his own ticket in 2011, by all means, let him try his luck, afterall he is aptly named)

Other people, who in a normal democratic society, should fall on their swords, or should not even see the light of day in politics, are the Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole. They were very partisan, ignorant of the Constitutional procedure, or chose to be, and even out rightly and actively encouraged the impasse. They must not seek second terms.

Those who said they took the 400-page Appropriation Bill to Saudi Arabia for the President to sign and brought it back to Nigeria within hours must be arrested and charged with forgery and criminal deception, as well as those who connived with the BBC Hausa Service, to unsuccessfully try, thank God, to dupe a nation.

The President himself must be brought to the book as soon as he gets well enough and come back to Nigeria. He must be impeached for heating up the polity, abandonment of responsibilities and duty, not following the Constitution and for allowing other inept, corrupt and deceptive people to perpetuate deception and grand larceny on the people of Nigeria. He owes us big time, for allowing the country to free-fall during his absence which could easily have been avoided.

The undertones of tribal sentiments is there, and those who believe that only a certain section of Nigeria must rule Nigeria should be cautioned very seriously that Nigeria belongs to 140 million people and not just a section of it.

So what about the new “Acting President” himself? I hate to bring this up, but there remains a “small” matt

er “of a corruption scandal involving Jonathan’s wife, Patience Jonathan who was investigated for her involvement in the illegal movement of $13.5 million. As Jonathan now wields executive power, he has the means to tacitly or bluntly ensure that nothing ever comes of the corruption scandal involving his wife. Considering that Jonathan had to be pressured to reveal his assets, unlike Yar’Adua who willingly did so, there is a cloud of suspicion on the now-acting President with regard to corruption, a problem that has plagued Nigeria for far too long. Plus, considering the outcome of the James Ibori case which resulted in accusations that the nation’s anti-corruption body ‘bungled the case on purpose’, and many who have been fingered (at home and abroad) as corrupt are yet to face justice, it is not a stretch to worry that a scandal tied to Jonathan will simply disappear”. (Solomon Sydelle –

There are extra unknowns, such as when will the President return, if at all? And, if he does, will he gain back control of the government and how will he do this? What does the Constitution say on this, assuming those ignorant, corrupt and charlatan legislators will not misinterpret it again) Or, will Jonathan act as President until the next Presidential election in 2011 and will he run for President? I would rather support Mr Jonathan to carry on with the business of government for the next 18 months, unencumbered with all these political intrigues. “The political vacuum experienced by Nigeria over the last few months must come to an end to instil confidence in a people already weary and sick of all these political chicaneries”, as Solomon Sydelle, that greatest of blogger stated.

Nevertheless, constitutionally or not, Nigerians are surely hoping that this seemingly quiet man, whose very name rhymes with LUCK will bring in a new hope for the country and will address their problems.

But the crises and problems are far from over. In fact they are just beginning. Constitutional crisis, corruption scandals, unabated treasury looting; miscarriage of justice; electoral reform; tribalism; nepotism; religious riots; police brutality and extra-judicial killings; MEND and the Niger Delta; shortage of petrol; lack of good roads, basic and good healthcare for all; quality education; political assassinations; lack of security, just mention it. Will Jonathan be able to leave his imprint positively on Nigeria, or will he, like many others before him, fritter away the chance to be a true statesman?

We can only hope for some good luck!

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