Wednesday, February 10, 2010
ACTING PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN OF NIGERIA, WELCOME!
A president is a president irrespective of the manner in which he came to office or the capacity in which he exercises the office? He remains a president whether acting, deputising or standing in for the real president who is currently unavailable and intubated in King Faisal hospital intensive care unit, in the Kingdom of Saud. Icheoku appreciates the fact that Acting President Jonathan Goodluck is pseudo, albeit only holding fort, since he was not elected or voted for as one. He will only hold the office in trust for and pending the arrival of the main custodian of the office, President Umaru Yar'Adua, and when he recovers fully enough to resume his office. Now that the politics of succession or who takes over the mantle of leadership in Nigeria following the long hospitalization of President Umaru Yar'Adua is seemingly finally over, President Jonathan Goodluck should start presiding over the affairs of Nigeria immediately since there is no more time to waste in their presidency which is nearly 3/4 over! First he must tweak the cabinet to re-position it to suit his idea of an effective governance machinery; fire some old hands that are inhibiting his government's program and hire some fresh ones to re-invigorate the team and effectively see through his government's agenda. Icheoku says, the first order of business is to fire Attorney General Micheal Kassie Aondonakaa for giving the government a wrong advise that 'President Umaru Yar'Adua can rule Nigeria from any where of his choosing in the world?' May be by remote control or the Internet, wrong; except that such 'misleading theory of governance' was coming from a notoriously very corrupt Attorney General of Nigeria, whose middle name would safely pass for a bribe-taker? Disposing Aondoakaa is the right to do and it will be popular among Nigerians who have been clamouring for his removal from office. Moreso the Chief Justice of Nigeria is also a Tiv man from Benue State and Nigeria cannot afford to have the two chief law officers of the country coming from just one tribe out of the over 250 tribes there is in Nigeria! It neither just nor fair to concentrate both offices within one tribal grouping; so Aondoakaa should go. Next to go or be redeployed is the Foreign Affairs Minister Ojo Maduekwe because he does not seem to have a real grasp of what is required of a person in his office. He seems to have a very old mindset about today's diplomacy and has never been an effective communicator of Nigeria's foreign policy directives? Nigeria needs someone that could at least force or drive a conversation about Nigeria and for this, Icheoku mentions Professor Dora Akunyili as a good fit for the position. In addition to her other admirable attributes, she is also very passionate about what she does and Nigeria requires a proactive 'nationalist' to project her image abroad and market Nigeria from mountain tops, as would a good commodity? That Ojo Maduekwe's office spent over $2 billion naira last year alone without any derivative beneficial returns for Nigeria leaves much to be desired of a Nigerian foreign affairs minister. Such profligacy is mind-bogling and he should get out of the foreign affairs ministry immediately, even only on account of this. Dora comes highly recommended because she is one of the few ministers who is so excitable about Nigeria that she took it upon herself to give Nigeria a better image by single-handedly trying to re-branding it? It is worth mentioning too that Dora Akunyili is the only one in Nigeria who seriously believes that Nigeria still have a chance to be better and great; and such a person will be a good saleswoman for Nigeria and hence has all the potentials to be a great foreign affairs minister for Nigeria. Alternatively, deploy her to the Power ministry or Petroleum Ministry to fix whatever is broken therein. As a challenge, if anyone including Acting President Jonathan Goodluck thinks that providing power to Nigeria is an impossible task, Icheoku asks, have you given Dora Akunyili the task? It is all about a can-do spirit and Nigeria will enjoy uninterrupted power supply forever! Further President Umaru Yar'Adua's man-Friday, Agricultural and water resources minister Sayaad Abba Ruma should be redeployed or fired immediately to safeguard Jonathan's presidency and/or lessen his power, influence and hold on the presidency. So also should Special adviser Tanimu Kurfi be asked to proceed on indefinite leave of absence pending his master's return back to office. However in going after these two men, Jonathan Goodluck should be mindful that the ailing president might not find it a comfortable decision and will see it as a kick in the gut and a foundational challenge to his position. The better suggestion is to keep them at bay while consolidating a power base to ensure smooth governance. Last but not the least is to try to reduce the influence of Kano people in the government by revisiting those appointments that were made only to their benefit, not taking into account that the north is not just north west or Kano and Katsina alone? Just re-distribute those appointments among the whole northern Nigeria to give every person a sense of participation and not concentrated in just Kastina/Kano axis? Finally, Nigeria cannot afford another 'Slow-man' President Jonathan, so Goodluck must start immediately to do his job as president. To refresh, the Nigeria National Assembly by resolution, and taking general notice of the widely available information that President Umaru Yar'Adua has now become indisposed, gave the all-clear for Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to fully assume the office of president, albeit in acting capacity. In an interview granted to BBC by the sickly President Umaru Yar'Auda on January 12, 2010; the president admitted that he is sick and hospitalised; and that he would return back to work when his doctors say so or give him a clear bill of health? It has now been 78 days since Nigeria waited for this clearance but nothing was coming from the said doctors; leading everyone across the polity to complain and agitate that the vice president should act for the ailing president pending his recovery. It was an all inclusive agitation which cut across Nigeria, from the ordinary Nigerians on the streets to the clergy, civil society, leaders of industries, opinion makers, politicians, trade unions etc. But Section 145 of the constitution requiring the president to intimate the senate on a transfer of power to the vice president held up everything since the president was too sick to write as required. It would appear that the president is in such a debilitated vegetative state to even lift a pen talk-less of being in the necessary right frame of mind to author a cohesive letter of absence? However he was not too sick to grant an interview to BBC, a decision which on hindsight he may be regretting today as it was based on that interview that the national assembly have now acted. In waiving the issue of notice as required by Section 145 of the constitution, the Senate President David Mark, said, the essence of the said section is to affix notice of the president's indisposition to the national assembly. Under the circumstances of inability to write as required, the Senate will adopt and so adopts the president's BBC interview as providing the necessary notice of his incapacity as required under the said Section 145. In the words of the Senate President, 'The BBC interview granted by the president is as good as the letter envisaged in the constitution"; therefore it shall be adopted as a tacit transmission of notice in satisfaction of Section 145 of the constitution that he is on medical vacation.' In the resolution making him acting president declared, "Goodluck Jonathan shall henceforth discharge the functions of the office of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Acting President. Jonathan would cease to discharge the functions of the office of the President when Yar’Adua “transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in writing that he has returned from his medical vacation?” Icheoku asks, why not dispense entirely with the requirement of giving a notice in writing, and in its place institute a panel of three eminent persons to sit over such happenstance when a president becomes so incapacitated that he could no longer function as one. What if the president returns tomorrow in a life-support ambulatory service or is forcibly brought back by Turai and the Cabals just to frustrate Jonathan's acting capacity? What if the president being so brought back still cannot articulate his thoughts or is incapable of similarly writing or giving a notice as required? Anarchy or double presidency or co-presidency or what; that will descend upon the land? Icheoku would rather this writing requirement is completely done away with to provide for a situation where a president is too incapacitated to write or is held hostage by some interest groups which would not allow or prevent him from doing the right thing! Icheoku concurs with one observer that empowering President Jonathan Goodluck is a “triumph for the Constitution as well as a triumph for the rule of law. It equally shows that Nigeria has untapped capacity and potential to grow out of the petty smallness holding it down; and shall one day rise up to the occasion to start seriously its nation-building; provided all those tribalists, religious-zealots and sectionalists who milk the current north and south divide completely die off and exit the stage. Just like the MKO Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe two Muslims ticket once attested to, as well as the current southern christain Jonathan succession of a northern muslim, Nigerians really do not care about what anyone worships or the section of the country that produced i'ts leader. All the average-Joe-Nigerian wants is the provision of basic infrastructure to enable him go about his daily business of providing for his family without molestation, in peace and in secured environment. Icheoku commends Senate President David Mark's statement that “The fact that we have resolved the logjam democratically is a measure of the depth that democracy has attained in our polity. This is not the time for winners and losers, but the time to remain united as a people because as a nation, our voyage is on the same tide and we cannot afford a drift.” However we beg to disagree that Nigeria's democracy has attained or will attain any meaningful depth, until elections begin to matter, cast-ballots counted at the polling centers; and real democracy enthroned starting with the PDP which needs to institute an internal democracy within its own political establishment. May be the recent Anambra State election which the PDP failed or were unable or refused to or did not hijack shows that something good is afoot in Nigeria's political clime; admitted the jury remains sequestrated until the almighty 2011 elections are decided. Icheoku agrees that this political solution of “doctrine of necessity,” should be given a chance in order to move Nigeria forward; as the alternative of an outright invocation of Section 143 impeachment clause will rather be too strong, unkind and unfeeling for a president who did not cause or bring sickness upon himself. Let Nigerians not stir the polity or unnecessarily stoke it any further since 2011 is already around the corner and new elections will usher in a fresh team to carry on, carrying on. As we have always maintained and now as being reinstated by some legal minds, "Jonathan does not require anybody's authorisation or a Senate resolution to act as President, he was duly elected alongside the ailing president as the vice president or president in the waiting and should immediately upon his indisposition step in as acting president". Yet it does not hurt for the Nigerian population as represented by the national assembly to add impetus to this by their resolution; so it is still a welcome idea. Icheoku agrees with Acting President Jonathan that there should be no more excuses for failures and adds, this zero-some tolerance for failure should not be exclusive the Nigerian police; but must transcend the entire gamut of government:- executive arm in its entirety, the legislature, the judiciary and the man on the street. Like the creed of MAMSER, if you are a tailor, tailor well; if you are a teacher, teach well, if you are a farmer, farm well; if you are a politician, politic well, if you are a governor, govern well and so on and so on. Also Icheoku agrees that the war against corruption should be prosecuted more firmly, more resolutely and more robustly. It needs reinvigorating and if it means breaking some bones to get the job done, so be it. To satisfactorily do this, Acting President Jonathan Goodluck should consider rehiring Nuhu Ribadu to continue with the good work he was doing before the corrupt powerful men of Nigeria swept him out of office and hounded him into exile. Let the free hand to be given to the anti-corruption agencies to prosecute the anti corruption war include allowing them to go after know corrupt Obasanjo's men as well as former governors James Onanefe Ibori and co. As of the many infrastructures mentioned, only two are most important to help jump start Nigeria's economy which is sputtering into comatose:- power and roads! Finally what is in a name one may ask, as a man named Goodluck Jonathan became a deputy governor, governor, vice president, acting president and God knows what next; all within what many will consider very short political pupilage/apprenticeship? But only fools question the gods or controvert their destiny! Congratulations Acting President Jonathan Goodluck and let the policy directive flow!