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CHUKWUMERIJE BLASTS GOVERNORS

By VIVIAN ONYEBUNWA and CHIOMA IGBOKWE
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A few weeks after governors of the 36 states pointedly said that President Umar Musa Yar'Adua could neither be impeached not made to resign, Senator Uche Chukwumerije has accused them of deviating from the norms governing the land.

In an interview with our reporters, in Owerri, Imo State capital, the senator said that the constitution guides everything that is done in democratic government, adding that anything outside it is unconstitutional.

He lamented that there is an attempt to side step the constitution in doing certain things, especially by governors.

He said: 'The focus of the nation on source of authority seems to be shifting from the constitution as the grand norm, through a body called the forum of governors.'

Chukwumerije stated that the Senate did everything within its power to resolve the controversy generated by the long absence of Yar'Adua, when he traveled for medical attention in Saudi Arabia, having made the vice president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan acting president.

The senator said: 'We have done something, as we came to the point of passing a resolution. What about the issue of an acting president? We need to get the interpretation of section 145. For now, it is difficult, but our problem then was that section 145 made it absolutely voluntary for the president to transmit a letter, about his whereabouts, to the assembly for it to be enforced. The interpretation we gave that led us to the point we are. That is as far as the assembly in concerned. The next action should come from the acting president himself, who is expected to take effective control in the capacity of president of Nigeria.

'I want to say that the decision taken by the National Assembly was a result of attempt to get to a political solution. It is won by combined stand on constitution, with sufficient respect to political realities. We want to avoid a situation that would dichotomize political responses along geopolitical lines. We succeeded in doing that. We are conscious of the fact that the constitution must remain same and there should be no intervening variables between them.'

The senator expressed misgivings about the way governors are throwing their weight around, saying: 'Am not too sure whether the prominence now being taken and given to the forum of governors and the way they are using their authority are good. We have to watch it carefully, as it is a departure from the constitution. We must not go away from a position where we lose focus of the constitution.

'The focus of the nation on source of authority seems to be shifting from the constitution as the grand norm, through a body called the forum of governors.'

On the outcome of the Anambra governorship election, Chukwumerije, who is a member of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the election because its members were fighting each other.

'A house divided against itself can never stand. Almost all the candidates, except Obi of APGA are products of PDP. They came out from PDP. Calculate their votes and you will see that PDP would have clinched that seat. If you are talking about simple majority of all the votes cast, nobody will be declared the winner. But if it were judged based on the highest scorer, then a winner will emerge. The result has nothing to do with registered voters.'

On the possible outcome of the 2011 election, Chukwumerije said that he is expecting a free and fair election from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since the electoral body has been chastised for its past performances.