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2 Winners, Same Silver Coin …That PDP Verdict On Senate, FEC

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Every coin has two faces, what parties seeking ‘ tie-break’ in logjam of choices usually call ‘Head’ or Tail.’ Before a coin is tossed for two conflicting parties, there must be a primary choice in contest, in the case of a soccer event, who kicks the ball first or chooses a desired half of the field.

If therefore, the log-jam now prompted by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s more –than 73-days absence from his presidential desk were to be put in context, two opposing choices will naturally emerge: One in favour of section 145 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and the other; respect for the two Abuja High Court rulings voiced on two different occasions by the  same Justice Abutu. Lets see both angles.

First, section 145 of the 1999 Constitution which is titled, Acting President during temporary absence of president, states thus: ‘ whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representative a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice –president as Acting President”

Key points to note here are,  “written declaration”, ‘proceeding on vacation’ (Leave, as Nigerian Civil Servants know it) and “unable to discharge the functions of his office”

Did the president send a written declaration to the Senate President or Speaker House of Rep? No!

Away for more than 70 days on vacation, sorry sick leave(?), Yes. In these number of days, has Mr President been able to “discharge the functions of his office”? No.

Thus, the questions to be raised are, since the president did not transmit any such written declaration, understandably, giving his health condition, at the time of leaving Nigeria for the King Faisal Specialist and Research Centre in Jeddah Saudi Arabi, Nov 23, last year, where, he has since been receiving treatment for acute preicaditis- an inflammation of the lining of the heart, can Vice President Goodluck Jonathan be sworn-in as acting president? Or were it to be seen as Mr President normal annual leave,

sorry vacation, how long would it last? And without the constitutional Senate or Reps notification, is it legally right for the vice president to perform the duties of his boss as if he were acting president?

In a country, where politicians think less of the next election and more of the next generation valid answers to these questions would not be too hard to find.

Now, lets also analyse the second part, the two Abuja High Court rulings, based upon which the Federal Executive Council (FEC),  a body of ministers appointed by the ailing president, to make a public declaration about the true state of the president’s health.

Disturbed by the long absence from his office as president, concerned Nigerians had sought constitutional interpretation from an Abuja High Court, presided over by Justice Abutu, before whom the applicants sought, among others, relief that vice President Jonathan be sworn-in as acting president.

But Justice Abutu in his first, ruled  that the Vice President could exercise presidential powers in the absence of the president but could not be sworn-in as acting president since Yar’Adua did not transmit a letter to the National Assembly to that effect.

In his second ruling, Justice Abutu gave the Executive Council of the Federation, often also called the Federal Executive Council (FEC) 14 days starting from last Saturday, January 23, 2010 to pass a resolution on the health of the president. The  body didn’t need 14 days, they took the decision last Wednesday, January 27, 2010 and told Nigerians that President Yar’Adua was not incapacitated but that he would return to the country next (this) week.

The court’s ruling and directive to the FEC is hinged on the long winding path and hurdles placed in way of a Goodluck Jonathan ever having in his CV, Acting President, if section 144, (1a-c,2,3,4a-b,5), are to be considered

The section spells out how an ailing president or vice president shall cease to hold office and states in 144 (1,A-B) as follows.

(a)…if, by a resolution passed by two thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the federation, it is declared that the president or vice-President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office, and (b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representative.

(2) where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the president or the vice president is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as render him PERMANENTLY INCAPABLE (emphasis mine) or discharging the functions of his office, a notice there of signed by the president of Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the official Gazzette of the Government of the Federation.

(3) the president or vice president shall cease to hold office from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.

And then the constitution explains the constitution of the medical panel which opinion will determine the removal of either the president or vice president, in sub section.

(4) The medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the president of the senate and shall  comprise Five medical practitioners in Nigeria –

(a)        One of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office concerned; and

(b)        Four other medical practitioners who have, in the opinion of the President of the Senate, attained a high degree of eminence in the field of medicine relative to the nature of the examination to be conducted in accordance with the foregoing provisions.

(5)        In this section, the reference to “Executive council of the Federation is a reference to the body of ministers of government of the Federation, however called, established by the President and charged with such responsibilities for the functions of government as the president may direct.

This is why a lawyer, who had obviously lost his mind said on national television last Tuesday “they are a bunch of desperate politicians determined to save their jobs not the nation. Who knows what could happen to their jobs, if the Vice President were to be sworn-in as Acting President,” I do not agree with that lawyer, what I do know however is that anytime the lion feeds something dies; anytime a new President emerges the status quo, or a part of it, is displaced; any time a vice becomes acting president, he, and not a retiring Chief Justice swears-in a successor; anytime there is a president, he presents his budget to a joint session of the national assembly and not do so through a proxy; and anytime there is a serving president, there is no quarrel as to who should sign bills passed by the National Assembly.

Now, the issues that should be addressed in all these, our prayers for the quick recovery of the President notwithstanding, are; should the Vice President be sworn-in as Acting President to fill the vacuum created by Yar’Adua’s  long absence so as to perform all such duties that only a  President can perform? Or should we remain where we have been, since November 23, last year, content with the verdict of Yar’Adua’s ministers, that their boss is fine and would return soon?

These, methinks are the two faces of the silver coin, which the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said bear same faces-‘head’ and ‘head’, since the senate and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) are both right.

Looking critically, however, the Senate position and that of the roundly criticized chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, are slightly similar, only, the latter should have voiced the same view privately, even earlier, or never at all.

My Agony is, that even with the awesome powers of a President which VP Jonathan is said to have exercised so far, including the power of sending the military to Jos to quell the tin city’s disturbances, and all, the legality of signing the 2010 Appropriation Bill into law, when passed by the National Assembly, may not be one of the spoils of a Vice President’s office.

Yet, the PDP says, both the Senate and the FEC are right and deserve same commendation. Many agree, I don’t.

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Our Policies Are Geared Towards Protecting Rivers Interest -Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has declared that all the policies and programmes of his administration are tailored towards the protection of interest of Rivers people, especially the youths.
This, he said, is borne out of the importance his administration attaches to youths’ development and empowerment as leaders of tomorrow.
Fubara, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nelson Chukwudi, disclosed this when he received the youths of Emohua Local Government Area under the auspices of “Emohua Youths For SIM” on solidarity visit to Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
He said that his administration has put in place modalities that will boost the livelihoods and well-being of Rivers citizens, which youths of Emohua will also benefit when they materialise.
The governor, who spoke through the Rivers State Head of Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, pointed out that the recently awarded Elele-Omudiaga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Ikiri-Omoku Road, the ongoing Emohua-Kalabari Road, reinstatement of illegally sacked workers of Emohua Local Government Area and the approval for electrification of the area, are part of deliberate measures to open up the area to make life conducive and more meaningful for the people.
According to him, “Everything about the governor is putting the interest of Rivers State first. He is looking at and taking action on those things that we need to do to restart the wheels of progress in Rivers State.
“There are many things the governor has planned and is already doing that will boost the life and welfare of every citizen of Rivers State, but most importantly the youths.
“Growing up, I learnt that Egbeda is one of the biggest communities in the whole of Ikwerre, and it’s predominantly an agrarian community. They have food in Egbeda, they have food in Ubimini, they have food in Omudiaga and other natural resources. The whole world is tilting to agriculture, and this is the way to go.
“The Elele-Umudioga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Omoku road, when completed, will open up the area for real development. Your food and everything you produce there will now have value, they will no longer be thrown away. In all these, you the youths are going to be the utmost beneficiaries.”
He added, “Same will be applicable to the Emohua-Kalabari Road which will also, trigger development in the area, and you will be the greatest beneficiaries. When the LGA is also electrified, you will be having 24 or 20 hours of electricity, and those things the youths can do with electricity, you can stay at home and create wealth for yourself and children.
“All the totality of what the governor is doing, when they are completed, or even as some are completed now, the youths are going to be utmost beneficiaries.”
While acknowledging that youths are the true leaders of tomorrow and any government that fails to carry them along in the scheme of things is doomed to fail, the governor assured them of his administration’s commitment to always address issues concerning youths and ensure that they are part of his government.
He commended the youths for toeing the path of truth by identifying with his administration, urging them to sustain the tempo and shun evil, as his government will ensure that the trend whereby politicians turn youths to beggars are over.
He said, “Youths are, indeed, the leaders of tomorrow. The time of youth is a very important time. It a time that your parents or whoever is your leader at that time have to make the greatest investment in you. And any Government that decides to only carry the elderly, chiefs aling and abandon the youths is bound to fail,” he asserted.
“But I am happy that Governor Fubara has concentrated his energy on everything that will benefit the society, especially the youths.
“And based on these, I want to thank you for recognising what is good and calling it good, for shunning what is evil, for saying the Governor is standing for you.
“Let me tell you, you are on the right direction. Let me tell you again, Rivers State is the bride of Nigeria. The whole Nigeria is looking at what will happen here. As they look here and see you standing on the path of truth, this is a very important step that you have taken to right all the wrongs of the past, to make Rivers State stand on the tripod of justice, peace and security. That is what we are going to gain through the governor, taking all the wise actions that he has already initiated.
“The projects the governor is embarking on are meant to prepare nets for the youths to fish and put food on their table, hence you should continue to follow him.
“The SIMplified Movement brought upon by the governor will ensure that Rivers youths stop the habit of going to bow down before politicians, pledging loyalty before they can eat.”
Earlier, spokesman for the Emohua Youths for SIM, Comrade Ovamale O. Ovamale, had said that the visit by youths from the 14 political wards in Emohua Local Government Area was to thank the governor for the award of the Elele-Omudiaga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Ikiri-Omoku road, the approval for electrification of the area and reinstatement of sacked workers of Emohua Local Government Council, of which the youths were mostly affected.
According to him, “Siminalayi Fubara of recent has given Emohua Local Government road that links Elele to Omoku, which comprises over four communities in the local government.”
“Emohua Local Government has also been in darkness for eight years. No community in the local government that has light. But, of recent, because of the passion and love the governor has for the people of Emohua, he has approved the electrification of the local government.
“Also, the illegal sack of Emohua Local Government workers, for which the youths were mostly affected and without the approval of the Local Government Service Commission, the governor, in his compassionate nature, has reinstated them, and that is why we said we must come and thank His Excellency”, he said.

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Our Legacy’ll Leave Lasting Impression On Rivers People -Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has assured that his administration will collaborate and continue to consult widely in delivering a liberated State experiencing enduring peace.
Fubara said, in doing so, he would not operate as a dictator but as a member of a team that has the best interest of the State at heart and determined to leave a lasting legacy that can be celebrated.
The governor spoke during the formal presentation of Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office to the Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, King Ateke Michael Tom, as first class tradition ruler, at Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Fubara stated that, during the Sixth State Executive Council meeting, N80.8billion was approved with 50 percent contract value paid already as the Government awarded the construction of the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road.
He said the project will be funded from the savings from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to underscore his administration’s prudence without also borrowing to complete the project.
“We are at a crossroad in our State where we all need to stand for what is right. It happens once in a life time. So, for now, be one of those people that will be in the course to liberate and free our dear State.
“And I know strongly that having the support of a peace-loving Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, having the support of the wonderful Council of Chiefs, having the support of the great people of Rivers State, we will bring peace in our State. We will do those things that are right to develop our State.
“We will continue to consult. We will not act as dictators. We will act as people who know that one day, we will leave, and when we leave, the way we have acted will speak for us. We will not force people to talk good about us. Our legacy will be a signature for how we led”, the governor said.
Fubara explained that he acted within the ambit of the law to upgrade the traditional stool upon which King Ateke Tom sits in recognition of his efforts in promoting peace in Okrika, and indeed, the State, and urged him to continue to do justice to everyone.
In his speech, Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Hon Charles Amadi, congratulated King Ateke Tom for being formally presented with the Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office as first class traditional ruler.
Also speaking, former Transport Minister, Chief Abiye Sekibo, thanked the governor for fulfilling his promise of upgrading the traditional stool of Okochiri Kingdom, and pledged the support of Kirike Se people to his administration.

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We’re Determined To Leave Legacy Of Quality Education -Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has promised to give the best attention to the education sector so that standard and quality learning will never be compromised in the State.
The governor emphasised that in achieving such legacy, schools in the State will be driven with a curriculum that will equip school-aged children to become competitive, innovative and self-reliant.
Governor Fubara made the assertion while inaugurating the Governing Council of Rivers State University at Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
He said: “There is a lot of noise everywhere: people asking what we are doing; that we are not focused, and that we don’t have direction.
”But I want to tell the world that we are focused and aware that we cannot grow if our energies are not channeled to education. Not just education, but purposeful education.
”Education that is creative. Education that gives you independence. We have left the era in the world when you speak too much grammar. We are in such times when it is what you can do with your hands.
”Our purpose for education is that we should bring back our academic programmes to where, at the end of your studies, you don’t need a job but you create jobs. When one creates a job, you automatically employ others. That is what I want this council to see as their task.”
Governor Fubara noted the non-existence of public secondary schools for the male child in the Diobu axis of Port Harcourt.
He said such negligence leaves children in that area who have completed primary education, and whose parents cannot afford sending them to far away secondary schools, to roam the streets, and therefore becoming willing tools for criminality.
Governor Fubara assured that such fundamental problem will be addressed by his administration as a measure to curb the negative impression associated with Diobu axis of Port Harcourt.
The governor said he trusts in the capacity of the members of the Governing Council of Rivers State University to bring about positive change in the institution while also contributing their quota to improving the general education standard in the State.
”I charge you, not just in terms of administering the affairs of the university, but let us add something different from the normal things that we already have to see new things.”
In her response, on behalf of the other members, the Pro-Chancellor of the Governing Council of Rivers State University, Justice Mary Odili (rtd), thanked the governor for finding them worthy to serve in such capacity.
Justice Odili assured they will work assiduously as a team to solve the problems that agitate the mind of the governor and ensure their contributions form part of the legacy that will be bequeathed by his administration.
The members included Justice Mary Odili (rtd) as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council with Barrister Mela Oforibika and Chukwuma Chinwo, Esq.
Others were Adata Bio-Briggs, Esq., Dr. Jonathan Nimi Hart, Ngo Martins-Yellowe, Dr. Nancy Nwankwo, Dr. Igoni William-Park, and Mr. Ogbugbu Barisua.

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