Northern leaders responsible for Yar'Adua's refusal to handover, as Media gives 7 days Ultimatum

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As against the media posturing of key northern leaders on the need to respect the constitution as a result of President Umaru Yar'Adua's prolonged absence from the country (almost 3 months), can now reveal that

leaders of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) are behind the power vacuum occasioned by the president's absence. A meeting of the ACF held on December 16, 2009, in Kaduna was said to have agreed to play the “politics of the North” in a bid to ensure that power does not go back to the South.

It was gathered that one of the participants at the meeting, which was attended by no fewer than 45 northern leaders had informed the meeting that since the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, was hospitalised for four months, Nigerians could still wait on Yar'Adua to recover, adding that his own state Governor had sent a message to the AFC, urging the northern leaders to rally round the ailing president. was informed that one of those at the meeting had asked the northern leaders whether the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), a northerner, had been in communication with them and that since the people in government had not been reaching out to northern leaders, the north was also being marginalised.

A report put together at the end of the meeting indicated that the leaders should forget about making a trip to Saudi Arabia but focus their mind on a post-Yar'Adua era.

Further checks revealed that the meeting discussed options before the North and talked of a worst case scenario, which, a source said, could still be made to accommodate the South-South in the number two position.

Said one of the leaders at the meeting: “If the worst should happen, the constitution provides that Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan should take over, while the Forum (ACF) can only play along or circumvent the process.”

It was however concluded at the meeting that the status quo be maintained till the president's possible return.

According to one of the conclusions at the meeting, there was an agreement to the fact that the North should continue “to manage and tolerate him (Yar'Adua) till 2011,” as, according to the leader who made the submission, the option was better that “dealing with the devil they do not know.”

One of those who spoke boldly at the meeting had remarked that if Jonathan was allowed to step in, some sycophants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the North would ask him to continue in office.

A source said that one of the speakers at the forum wondered why the forum could not stop him (the vice-president) when they still had the opportunity instead of allowing him “to be forced on the North.” Another speaker at the meeting was said to have lamented that the North was in a big mess, concerning the power equation and that the choice of Jonathan could jeopardise the region's plan to have aneight-year tenure at the presidential villa.

Emerging facts have it that that the meeting identified General T.Y Danjuma; General Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Ali Monguno as some of the credible northern leaders who could be relied upon to proffer the way out of the mess.

While the meeting concluded that certain things would not be discussed in the open, it, however, issued a statement which was contrary to the detailed discussions at the inner meeting.

Notable faces at the December 16, 2009 meeting included Alhaji Saidu Bada, Mohammed Mujtaba Ahmed, Col. Musa Shehu (rtd), Bukar Zarma; Air Commodore Abubakar Salihu (rtd), Senator Isa Kachako; Muritala Aliyu; Malam Yau Darzo; M. J. Alabi, Alhaji Anthony NZ Sani, Senator JKN Waku; and Mohammed Abdurahaman etc.

The meeting issued a four-point communiqué, which indicated that the North had resolved that the constitution be respected in view of the unfolding circumstance;

That the North would not allow any effort by any group to subvert the constitution; condemn calls for the vice-president to resign and called for criminalisation of alms begging in the North.

Zamfara Recruits 1,767 prayer warriors Pays them N10,000 each to revive Yar'Adua

In confirming the roles of the Northern leaders especially those in the North East and West, to forcing the ailing Yar'Adua on Nigeria without considering the negative implications, Zamfara State government has recruited 1,767 Islamic clerics to pray for the quick recovery of President Umaru Yar'Adua. Disclosing this at the 481- week Friday preaching in Gusau, the state governor, Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, said the Islamic clerics would lead the special prayers in the 1,767 Friday Juma'at mosques across the state. The state, according to Nigerian Tribune findings, will spend about N17.6 million on the prayers as each of the cleric will go home with N10,000 for the service rendered.

Represented by the state Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Sheik Tukur Sani Jangebe, the governor remarked that the prayer session was necessary in view of the present situation the country was passing through. According to the governor, the health of the president was very important for the survival of the country and, as such, he needed the prayers of Nigerians instead of playing politics with his health. The governor also directed the Islamic clerics to pray for the victims of the recent Jos mayhem. Governor Shinkafi advised Muslim Ummah (community) to make good use of the Islamic teachings that said Muslims should promote the culture of peaceful co-existence. He admonished both Muslims and Christians in the state to remain united and peaceful with each other, stressing that both Islam and Christianity condemned violence.

Niger Delta Groups threaten to evoke the United Nations' resolution on self-determination

Sources confirmed to that two newly formed groups in the South have, however, been dissecting what was said openly and what was not said in the open at the meeting with a resolve to firmly prepare for eventuality. Information indicates that two groups in the South, including the Niger Delta Republic Movement (NDRM) and The 1895 Movement, both of which comprise some retired intelligence chiefs are said to be studying the situation and that the two groups are prepared to ensure that no single barrel of oil leaves the country in case some groups want to actualise the unstated conclusions of the December 16, 2009, meeting of the ACF.

“Groups in the South are taking adequate notice of body language of some persons and they are ready to take adequate measures at self-determination, in case the constitution is not respected,” a source close to the two groups revealed to

Meanwhile, plans to fly in ailing President Yar'Adua suffered a setback on Tuesday, as sources said that the ailment relapsed in the early hours of the day. It was said that the situation had been a common occurrence in the last one week but that the Tuesday development forced the kitchen cabinet to think of heeding the advice of the doctors, who said that they could not guarantee the safety of president travelling to Nigeria in the present situation. As a result of the relapse, arrangements to receive him at the villa are said to have been put on hold.

However in another development, the people of the South-South zone of the country have threatened to invoke the United Nations' resolution on self-determination, if the Federal Government continues to “abuse” the 1999 Constitution by its non-implementation with regard to the absence of President Yar'Adua. The Secretary General of the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), Mr Tony Uranta, said the people of the Niger Delta would not sink with the Nigerian ship.

He noted that the current unpleasant situation surrounding the office of the president had been occasioned by the selfish interest of a cabal, which valued power above the peace and development of Nigeria. Reacting further, he said the nation, in the last few weeks, because of the absence of President Yar'Adua and his refusal to obey constitutional dictates by allowing Vice-President Jonathan to take the saddle as acting president, had been exposed to local and international ridicules. He added that the absence of the president had jeopardised the smooth running of the amnesty programme as former militants in the region had started to question the government's sincerity as far as the amnesty was concerned. He gave the Federal Government a week to obey the constitution, while advising President Yar'Adua to resign as president in the interest of his own life, his family and the unity of Nigeria.

“I can give notice of one thing; the South-South, as represented by UNDEDSS, will not fall over this precipice. If the rest of the nation decides to be so stupid and so blind and by next week we do not see action as to the right thing being done the right way, we shall approach the United Nations and we shall use every resolution and every charter, including that of self-determination, to force the hands of this cabal of crooked leaders in Nigeria. If this cabal and the president will not respect the constitution, how will the president or the ruling class honour the pacts they have reached with the repentant militants as per the post-amnesty situation?” He queried.

“You may be aware of the fact that at this point, two very key so-called repentant militant leaders; Ateke Tom and Tompolo, have given a warning that things may go back or, even, worse than the level of the pre-amnesty days. We have been classified as a terrorist nation because President Barack Obama had nobody he could speak with in Nigeria. We have had the illegality of a chief justice being sworn in by a sitting chief justice.

We have had the abnormality of a supposed budget being signed in obscurity. We are doing things that make it appear as if we are determined to go down the ravine,” the UNDEDSS scribe said.

Meanwhile, the Senate, on Tuesday, said it had not foreclosed action on the absence of President Yar'Adua, as the issue generated a heated argument among the senators. The Senate had, last week, resolved that the president should send a letter to it, informing the upper legislative House concerning his absence and his state of health. Also at its sitting on Tuesday, the Senate again reacted to some publications in some national dallies which portrayed it as if it had foreclosed its actions on the ailing president.

Senator Uche Chukwumerije started the debate, saying that “but in the said publications which I refer to, the information which I read, which is very new to me, was given that the Senate had foreclosed all options.

“This publication, implying that we have foreclosed all options, has exposed the Senate because it never discussed any options.

“Secondly, public view on the matter has exposed the Senate to ridicule. I, as a member of the Senate, feel embarrassed and diminished by this discussion. I believe that the issue involved here is so fundamental that I will ask for a closed session for us.”

The Senate president, David Mark, in his reaction, said “the entire publication, with massive and catchy headlines, is just a sheer mischief. The fact of the matter is that we didn't discuss the impeachment of Mr President and Mr Vice-President.

“They got a written paper from the Senate spokesman and decided to put their headlines and do their analysis. There is very little we can do about it. Let me use this opportunity to clarify it that the entire publication was just based on mischief, starting with the one that gave the headline as if the leadership wanted Mr President and Mr Vice-President impeached because there were some ambitious men in the leadership, it was total nonsense and that is what started it all.”

He, however, pleaded that the issue should be laid to rest, saying that “with this clarification, we stand where we stand. We have made our resolution and we stand by that resolution. There should be no further debate. We are not going to go back on the resolution and there should be no further debate on it.”

Also on Tuesday (Feb. 2) prominent Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has appealed to the movement for the emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) to continue with the ceasefire agreement reached with the federal government last year. He agreed that the post-amnesty initiative of the federal government has failed in the rehabilitation of ex-freedom fighters. He said the attitude of the minister of defence and chairman of the federal government committee on amnesty, General Godwin Abbe (Rtd), has not helped matters.

Clark said he is confident that the problems of the Niger Delta will be properly addressed once the constitutional crisis facing the country is resolved.

Meanwhile militants said on Tuesday, Febraury 2 that the Shell oil pipeline damaged on Saturday was blown up with explosives, not damaged by oil thieves, and warned it would attack the line and other oil facilities in coming weeks.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has said it was not directly responsible for the sabotage of the Trans-Ramos pipeline that forced Shell to shut down three pumping stations.

But it denied assertions that the disruption had been caused by thieves tapping into the line to steal oil.

"The military joint taskforce in collaboration with Shell (today) denied the attack on the Trans-Ramos pipeline was an act of sabotage, claiming it was an attempt to steal crude oil," MEND said in an emailed statement.

"No bunkerer breaches pipelines with explosives as in this attack ... MEND hereby promises to revisit the Trans-Ramos pipeline, which we attacked in June last year, after it has been repaired as well as other oil facilities in the Niger Delta in the coming weeks," the statement said.

Nigerian media call for Yar'Adua's resignation within 7 days

Media stakeholders in the nation have also registered their displeasure over the long absence of the President and have accordingly asked President Umaru Yar'Adua to cede power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan or resign within seven days. Also on Tuesday (Feb 2), the Senate equally restated its stand on President Umaru Yar'adua's absence from the country, and reaffirmed its resolution that the President should transmit a letter of his medical vacation to the National Assembly or face impeachment.

Rising from a meeting, Monday, in Lagos, the media chiefs said: ”If he fails to take this obvious constitutional step to stabilize the polity and keep undemocratic forces away from the political space, the National Assembly should commence impeachment proceedings against the President for endangering the country.”The stakeholders, who met against the backdrop of crisis generated by the ill-health of President Yar'Adua, flayed ”the recklessness and unpatriotic politicization of the ill-health of the President and the dance towards darkness by our leaders.”

According to them: ”Upon a careful review of the dangers posed to our nation by the gathering clouds in the land occasioned by disregard for the spirit of our Constitution, the stakeholders resolved as follows:

.That President Umaru Yar'Adua is human and susceptible to health challenges like every one else.

·That President Yar'Adua is no ordinary Nigerian; in any case, his health challenge is being tackled with national resources.

·That President Yar'Adua swore to an oath of allegiance to obey the letters and the spirit of the 1999 Constitution without fear or favour and to also promote peace and concord in Nigeria.

·That the media stakeholders note the various efforts of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Kasee Aondoakaa, SAN, to secure rulership in absentsia for President Yar'Adua even when the President had admitted in a BBC interview that his health challenges had temporarily incapacitated him and prevented him from performing the duties of his office. ·That it is, therefore, frustrating and insulting those members of the National Assembly shall be committing very scarce public funds on a “goodwill visit” to the President in Saudi Arabia.

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