Yar’Adua is on sick bed now. There is nothing we can do about it. So, the effective president we are having now is Goodluck Jonathan. And Action Alliance, as a party is 100 per cent
solidly in support of the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, and we have said that he should be confirmed immediately as the president of this country.
The National Chairman of Action Alliance, Senator Suleiman Salawu, says the party is totally in support of the Presidency of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as the presidency is not about where an individual comes from, contending that the time has come when the North/South dichotomy must give way.
According to him, the Action Alliance wants the Acting President to be confirmed immediately as the President of the country.
The National Chairman who hails from Kwara State told The Tide on Sunday in this encounter in Port Harcourt that since it was clear that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua could no longer perform his duties as President of the country due to ill-health, the proper thing was for the National Assembly to confirm Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the substantive president of the country without further delay.
He explained that Jonathan has always shown that he is a complete gentleman and has been loyal to his boss until circumstances made the National Assembly to confirm him as the Acting President of the country, stressing that if President Yar’Adua had not had a loyal Vice President in the person of Jonathan, the political situation in the country would have become something else by now.
Salawu, who was elected into the senate on the platform of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) during the Second Republic alleged that President Yar’Adua had committed an impeachable offence by not proceeding on leave and declaring his intention to go for medical treatment as required by law, positing that impeachment of a president or governor was not only done when a President or Governor steals or embezzles public funds.
His words: “Having failed to even proceed on leave or declare his intention to go for medical treatment as required by law, that means that President Yar’Adua has committed a sort of impeachable offence. It is rather unfortunate that people see impeachment as a way of sending out an executive, either a president or a governor because of an act of crime like stealing money, embezzlement. No, if you are impeached on health ground, there is nothing special about that”.
He said the proper thing for the National Assembly to do now was to impeach the president particularly if he is found to be unfit to perform his duties. For a way forward, he said the North/South dichotomy must also come to an end in the country. Hear him.
“Yar’Adua is on sick bed now. There is nothing we can do about it. So, the effective president we are having now is Goodluck Jonathan. And Action Alliance, as a party is 100 per cent solidly in support of the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, and we have said that he should be confirmed immediately as the president of this country. After all, he is not a member of my party but some people believe that if somebody comes from another part of the country, he is not qualified to be president. This is wrong. I think this North/South dichotomy should stop so that Nigeria could be a true nation we all long dream of”.
Commenting on the recent cabinet dissolution by Acting President Jonathan, Senator Salawu said it was appropriate as some members of the dissolved cabinet had constituted themselves into a cabal, mafia and a kitchen cabinet of the ailing president.
His words: “It is appropriate. It was long overdue. You don’t sit on the keg of gun powder. When a house if burning, the best thing to do is to run out so that you could quench the fire. Already that cabinet was under the solid control of those who called themselves members of the kitchen cabinet, and they had constituted themselves into a mafia. So, for Jonathan to continue to entertain them would have been lack of discretion on his part. Now that he has started asserting himself as Acting President, the dissolution of the cabinet is in order.”
On the quality of persons to make up the new cabinet the party chairman suggested that only credible, honest and creative Nigerians should be appointed into the cabinet. “People who believe that selfless service is what is required to move Nigeria forward. We don’t want people, politicians, ministers who first and foremost are out to accumulate wealth unnecessarily. We need ministers that have initiative, people that can create wealth for the society and create job opportunities for Nigerians”, he declared.
When he was asked to suggest areas the acting president should give priority attention in view of the Yar’Adua’s seven point agenda, Senator Salawu replied: “What he should do is to bring out his agenda, whether it is one or two and accomplish it.
We don’t want composition. The seven-point agenda is a mere composition. The government has a few months to go. Jonathan should focus on electoral reforms. Then, education is in serious decay”.
The Kwara State-born politician further highlighted the need to restructure the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make it face the challenges staring it in the face.
According to him, the problem of INEC was not the chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, as electoral reforms could not be equated with INEC.
He, therefore, suggested that the Jonathan administration should go beyond the INEC chairman and go ahead to reform the electoral system in the country, starting from the wards to the local governments and the states, contending that with the way things were currently in the country, even if religious leaders like Cardinal Olabunmi Okogie and ArchBishop Makinde and even President Barak Obama are appointed to head the INEC, nothing would change.
His words: “When we talk of electoral reforms, people attribute it to Prof. Maurice Iwu. People assume that is the only way you can reform. I have always told people that if you put saints as chairman of INEC, PDP will continue to rig elections unless you restructure INEC. But restructuring does not mean you have to remove the chairman. If I were the one, I would allow Iwu to remain but I will reform INEC. The way INEC is set up makes Iwu to be helpless”.
He said this was so because the INEC chairman has no powers to sack Resident Electoral Commissioners and other staff of the electoral body.
“Iwu has limited powers over INEC staff. And rigging is not done at the boardroom of INEC in Abuja. It is done at the wards, local government and state levels. There is no area where Prof. Iwu has been legally indicted for committing acts of rigging”, he said.
To stop rigging across the country, Senator Salawu suggested that the political search light should be focused on electoral offices, returning officers, resident electoral commissioners and police officers at the ward, local government and state levels.
On the alleged plan by the PDP to zone the presidency to the North, he had this to say: “There is nowhere in the constitution it is said that nobody from any section of the country could be prevented from contesting primaries. There is no law on that. But the arrangement of PDP is always self-serving, full of deceit. Now, they know that the president is sick, the proper thing is for his Vice to take over. If Jonathan performs well, what stops him from being voted to continue as president. I want Jonathan to assert himself and we the progressives are ready to back him to the last”.