‘2011: Jonathan Should Decide’

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Jonathan is the Acting President, wanting to contest for the 2011 Presidency; that’s left for him. It is not anybody’s affair. What ever it is, he’s a reasonable person, he knows how he came in the arrangement that brought him to power, and therefore, he should be able to decide for himself. With Acting President Goodluck Jonathan consolidating his hold on power, especially with the dissolution and reconstitution of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF), many believe that the nation is on the right path and is making steady progress from the point of precipice that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s prolonged absence from the country on health ground landed the country. To ensure the present tempo and goodwill the administration enjoys is sustained, Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria, including the United States and Britain have been offering advices to the Jonathan-led government. The latest of such spate of advice coming from Rivers State-born member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Christopher Berewari, representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, who in an interview with The Tide on Sunday in his office counseled the Acting President against seeing himself as a sectional leader. The way forward for the Jonathan presidency, Hon. Berewari said : “First and foremost, he should see himself as a statesman; a leader, leading Nigeria he should see himself as somebody God has bestowed responsibility upon to lead this nation; he should be focused, tackling things that are really the problems of this country for a longtime.” Berewari identified these problems as power (sector), electoral reform, Niger Delta and corruption and urged him on saying “He should face these things (squarely); by so doing, his name will go down in history as one who came (with a burden) to salvage these things; he should not see himself as a sectional leader, he should do only those things that will help this country move forward.” Berewari reacted to the statement credited to the chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the party has zoned 2011 presidency to the North, thereby debarring Acting President Jonathan from taking a possible slot at the coveted office next year. According to him, rotational presidency is not in the constitution but a strictly party affair, noting that it is left for the Acting President to decide on what he wants in 2011. “What we’ve concerned about now is what is on ground. Jonathan is the Acting President. Jonathan, wanting to contest for the 2011 Presidency, that’s left for him. It is not anybody’s affair; what ever it is, he’s a reasonable person, he knows how he came in the arrangement that brought him so he should be able to decide for himself.” The Tide on Sunday sought from Hon. Berewari when the National Assembly is likely to make Jonathan the substantive president and he said there is no time frame, especially since the state of President Yar’Adua’s health couldn’t be ascertain which makes it difficult for them to know when he is to resume his duties, noting however, that the constitution is clear on how an ailing President should be removed from office and expressed implicit confidence in the constitution to solving that problem of making Jonathan substantive president. Berewari expressed grave concern about the non-visibility of Yar’Adua, especially since he allegedly arrived the country from Saudi Arabia and underscored the need for the president to be seen in public. “Mr President is the president of this country. We elected him to be our president; he is the property of this country, that’s why he’s in Aso Rock (Presidential Villa); if he’s to be the property of his family, he would be in his family house so if Mr. President, as they claimed, is back, not to his private house but to the public house, they don’t have any right to shield him from those who elected him, from those who empowered him to be in that house (presidential Villa),” he said. He continued “My advice to them is to do the right thing; he’s the president of Nigeria, they should allow those who should see him to see him. It’s unfair that the man that they have the same mandate, the man that they come openly and said, he (Yar’Adua) said that he should continue (as Acting President), that man would not see him, it’s unfair not just to the Acting President, but they’re being unfair to Nigerians,” adding that they should carry the president to his private house if they feel that he is their private property. Berewari said, the way forward in the circumstance is for Nigerians to continue to pray for his recovery, uphold the constitution and ensure the survival of democracy as well as her continued unity and peace without any trace of anarchy. He cautioned Nigerians to always realise that “when rain falls, it does not fall on only one man’s house, it falls on everyone that is available-within the reach of the rain,” and see themselves as sensitive people with the same destiny and equal stake in the Nigerian project, while striving at all times to sustain the unity of the country and uphold the constitution as a ‘Supreme document’ that binds all of them together. Justus Aawaji, Abuja