Daily Champion (Lagos)

5 February 2010

Nigeria: Northern Governors Reject Jonathan

Kaduna — The 19 Northern states governors, under the aegis of Northern Governors Forum (NGF), yesterday deliberated on the continued absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua from the country, declaring that the President does not need to write the National Assembly about his absence, since the issue of assigning Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President can either be verbal or in writing.

Rising from an emergency meeting at the Government House, Kaduna, the governors argued that it was not mandatory for Yar'Adua to transmit any letter to the National Assembly on his absence or the relinquishing of power to Jonathan.

They said the position of Acting President could be transmitted either verbally or in writing, stressing that the Vice President has been performing well since the President left the country over 70 days ago.

In a communiqué read at the end of the meeting by the Chairman of the Forum and Niger State governor, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, they called on all arms of government to continue to give the Vice President total support pending the return of the President.

The Forum condemned the recent crisis in Jos, Plateau State, insisting that it was more political than religious and asked the federal and Plateau State governments to take proactive steps to nip the crisis in the bud in the interest of peaceful coexistence and development of the country.

The governors called on the government to direct the full implementation of various investigative panels on the recurring crisis in the state, pointing out that there was the need for sustained and deliberate campaign to abrogate the settler/non-indigene syndrome in the overall interest of peace in the country.

The communiqué stressed the need of strengthening the security apparatus by way of proactive and pre-emptive measures towards securing the lives and property of the people as a fundamental constitutional responsibility and to forestall future occurrence of such crises in the country.

The governors however, denied recent media reports that the Bauchi State House of Assembly had passed a resolution asking all indigenes of Plateau State to leave the state, claiming that there was no truth in the reports.

In his address, Aliyu lamented that the problems and challenges facing the north today were more daunting than at any time in the nation's history as a region and as a people, adding that governors as political leaders have the responsibility to defend the constitution and the nation's nascent democracy by ensuring that the current unprecedented constitutional challenges were handled with utmost caution, maturity and patriotism in the overall interest of the nation.

"History and posterity will be harsh on us if we failed to do what is appropriate to save the situation in the interest of the nation.

"We should learn from our recent history and be more vigilant so that some people do not hijack the situation and sow the seed of disharmony in our body polity by claiming to protecting or speaking for the north.

"Some of us may recall a situation during the era of late General Sani Abacha when he was kept out of public view for whatever reasons for a prolonged period and some officers took advantage to be running the affairs of state while creating the impression that the General was in charge.

"We should therefore be circumspect and very appreciative of the circumstances that we are in and indeed champion the course for respect for the constitution and the rule of law. We should therefore discourage creating divisions along ethnic and religious lines, but rather continue to encourage unity, self reliance, collaboration, cooperation and understanding for the overall interest of our people.

"We should realize that as governors, we are the legitimate voice of the people and therefore, we should be forthright on issues that concern the security and welfare of the people," he said.

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