The joint resolution by the Senate and House of Representatives Tuesday February 9, 2010 mandating Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to become Acting President seems to have quietened the rapidly building storm, though there are still echoes on the constitutionality of the action. Since November 23, 2009 the nation and its President has been held to ransom by a faceless cabal rumored to include the First Lady, Agriculture Minister and Economic Adviser to the President, egged on by the loquacious Attorney General.
As if on cue, Goodluck Jonathan sprang to action on the eve of the resolution. Without a formal swearing in, he made a broadcast to the nation, gave the loud mouth AGF a soft landing into irrelevance by bundling him to the obscure "Special Duties" portfolio, and stepped boldly into the President's chair, which has been left to gather dust for almost 80 days. He also dusted up the mountain of files on the President's table, swearing in permanent secretaries and getting the business of governance moving again. The acting President cuts a picture of a no nonsense person, and erstwhile members of the Yar'Adua kitchen cabinet who hitherto ignored the Vice President have been forced to eat the humble pie.
Is the storm over?
Is Nigeria on the March again?
Is this a new dawn?
It is too early to say. Even in the event the courts overturn the National Assembly resolutions, the born again FEC and National Assembly can provide the paperwork required to pass the constitutionality test. It is obvious to even the blind, that President Yar'Adua is incapacitated. There are reasonable doubts as to if Umaru really spoke to the BBC or signed the supplementary appropriation bill.
There is still the unfinished business of section 144 of the Constitution. The FEC needs to show sufficient remorse for their shameful stunts by transmitting a letter to the Senate on the state of health of the President. To fully recharge the depleted presidency, we need a substantive President and a Vice President. Thinking that Umaru will be back is simply burying our heads in the sand. The Umaru Yar'Adua presidency came to an end November 23, 2009. He is a good man, and did not deserve to be foisted on the nation against his will, seeing the state of his health. Hopefully the proposed constitutional amendment will ensure this stunt can never be pulled again.
Beyond the Umaru saga, there are pressing issues that require urgent attention. Power and Niger Delta is top on the list, followed by electoral reforms, infrastructure, peace and security. This is enough to keep the President awake at nights till May 29, 2011. The long winded deregulation of the downstream of the petroleum sector should be brought to a conclusion. The PIB bill should be allowed to follow due process before being signed into law. The government needs to come clean on the 7-point agenda, repent of its sloganeering, downsize its focus and run with the few it can make a dent on, in the few months remaining till May 2011.
The conduct of the Anambra State elections gives a glimmer of hope that we are making progress in the march towards one man, one vote. This progress has been shadowed by massive errors in the voters register, and alleged errors in calculation of the constitutionally stipulated 25% required to add a local government to a candidate's tally. Mercifully, Maurice Iwu's term expires June 2010. Having a new face at INEC, couple with a new board backed by a new electoral law will be a giant leap forwards for Nigeria towards credible elections.
Will the PDP be allowed to rig its way to power as usual in 2011? Only time will tell. The prayer on the lips of most Nigerians is that the ascendancy of Goodluck Jonathan to the Presidency will amount to good luck to the nation, a break from an inglorious past, and the resumption of our long overdue march to greatness.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria