Abba-Aji gives conditions for Jonathan to take over – A new dimension has emerged in the controversy thrown up by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s continued stay in Saudi Arabia on medical grounds. The president can effectively perform his official functions without actually being in the country as the law does not specify that he should always be around to discharge the duties of his office, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Michael
Aondoakaa (SAN) said yesterday. He made this declaration just as President Umaru Yar‘Adua’s Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba Aji, declared the president will have no problem transferring power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan if his doctors say that he is staying longer in hospital.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Kaase Aondoakaa (SAN), also said that so far President Yar’Adua is still breathing; nobody can stop him from governing the country even on his sick bed except and until he himself declares that he is no longer fit to exercise his presidential powers.
He was fielding questions from journalists after a ministerial press briefing in his office. President Yar’Adua was flown out of the country to King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on November 23. A report by his personal physician said he was diagnosed with acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane covering the heart.
His absence from the country and failure to properly hand over to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan by following the provision in Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution is alleged to be holding some vital decisions like appointments in the judiciary and granting of licences for oil blocks. But the Justice minister said what the President needs to do in some of the matters is to give instructions wherever he is to his ministers who carry out the executive functions on his behalf.
Aondoakaa cited the example of the President of the Court of Appeal designate, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, whose nomination was forwarded to the Senate for approval on behalf of the President. “There is nothing sacrosanct about the President being around all the time to carry out some functions,” he said.
The minister also debunked the insinuation in some quarters that decisions taken at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings held while Yar’Adua was still away were illegal, saying an instruction could be delivered from any part of the world through modern day technology.
Elombah.com had reported on Monday that President Yar’Adua might be discharged from hospital this week and return to Nigeria following his recovery from his heart condition.
Thisday however added that his return date to Nigeria is still uncertain as it is dependent on his post-hospitalisation recuperation, a source informed the newspaper, adding that various options are still being considered. According to the report, one option is for the President to stay back for a while in Saudi Arabia for his doctors to monitor his progress, in which case he would leave the hospital and stay at one of the King Faisal’s guest houses where he normally lodges anytime he visits the country.
The other option, according to Thisday, is for the President to return to Nigeria for recuperation, in which case the doctors may be flown into the country to monitor his progress for a while.
Although Yar’Adua is said to have favoured returning home at the earliest possible time, it was learnt that he is being advised to stay back for now for the doctors to monitor his progress.
On the judiciary and operation of the courts, Aondoakaa said there is need for Nigeria to move with the rest of the world by adequately equipping court rooms with facilities that the court needs for it to get first hand information.
The best way computer generated documents could be admitted as evidence in courts, he clarified, is when Nigeria decides to go digital in the running of its courts.
President Umaru Yar‘Adua will have no problem transferring power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan if his doctors say that he is staying longer in hospital, his Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba Aji, has declared.
Abba-Aji, who spoke yesterday, also flayed insinuations of an imminent end of the Yar‘Adua presidency.
He assured that the President would soon be in good health and be ready for a second term.
He, nevertheless, called for prayers for the President from all Nigerians who, he urged, should pray for him as if they were praying for their fathers.
The Presidential Adviser spoke against the background of speculations in Abuja, yesterday, that a letter of transfer of authority to Vice-President Jonathan has been directed to the National Assembly.
While denying the existence of such letter, Abba-Aji, in a telephone interview, said the President would have no problem writing such a letter if and when he felt the situation of his health demanded it.
“When he assesses that he will stay long, I believe he will send the letter and it depends on his discussion with his doctors. If the doctors say he will stay long, the Yar`Adua I know will send the letter and, if it is just a few more weeks, I think there will be no problem,’’ he said.
Yar’Adua‘ll do second term— Abba Aji
Declaring that the Yar‘Adua presidency would stretch out to the end of a second term in 2015, he said: “What most people do not know is that Yar‘Adua will come back. He has done it before, when he was governor. He was away for six months and the death wishers did the same thing when he was governor and he returned and he did not only return to continue his job as governor, he went on to have a second term and completed the second term successfully and went on to contest the presidency of this country and won.
“He will definitely return. Yar`Adua is a man with many lives, he will come back, he will come and complete his first term and he will re-contest. So, read my lips, he will come back a very healthy person and he will carry on with his work, complete his tenure and he will contest for a second term.”
‘Yar’Adua‘ll come back in full force’
Asked when the President would be coming back, he said: “He will take his time. I agree that he will not come back until his doctors consider it safe for him to do so, but once he comes back, he will come back in full force. He will bounce back and I have no doubt in my mind that he will come back.
“Just because of his position, some people are not even prepared to consider him becoming a human being. How many Nigerians have been on admission and returned to their jobs? Is it because they are not Presidents? He never said that he is a superman, Yar`Adua is an ordinary human being. He has been ill before and just as he did before, he will recover.”
Only Yar’Adua can decide if he’s still fit to govern—Aondoakaa
So far President Yar’Adua is still breathing, nobody can stop him from governing Nigeria even on his sick bed except and until he himself declares that he is no longer fit to exercise his presidential powers, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), yesterday said.
The chief law officer of the Federation added that the on-going public debate on the legality of vital decisions being taken by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by Vice-President Jonathan Goodluck on state matters in the absence of the President is a waste of time.
Aondoakaa, who spoke yesterday in Abuja at the 2009 ministerial briefing of the Ministry of Justice, stressed that contrary to popular view, President Yar’Adua is competently and legally governing the country from his sick bed through his vice and the ministers.
He said all the decisions being taken by FEC, presided over by Jonathan were legal because Yar’Adua is exercising his presidential powers through them.
He said the issue of whether or not Vice-President Jonathan is legally exercising the powers of the president when President Yar’Adua has not handed over to him could not arise for now.
In fact, he said such issue could only arise when Mr President himself decided to decline from exercising the functions of his office.
He also said yesterday that President Yar’Adua government is committed to see to the logical conclusion of the investigations into the Haliburton scam.
His exact words: “The misconception Nigerians are having is that a president can only exercise powers of the president of a country if he is on a Nigerian soil. That is the argument that makes me to laugh.
“An executive president under a presidential system of government has powers embedded in his person as a president wherever he is, including if he is in a plane.
He will exercise the powers of the president.
“Even if he is sleeping, he wakes up to exercise the powers of the president. If he is in a meeting of the United Nations, and an issue has come up, he will exercise the powers of the president.
“If he is sick and that sickness does not affect his ability to exercise the powers of the president, he will do. This is one misconception and you can tell whoever has been misconstruing it that the powers of the president are embodied in the person elected as president and can exercise those powers anywhere he is as long as it affects the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he added.
VANGUARD: Kwarans pray for him
In another development, the special prayer organised at the Ilorin Central Mosque yesterday by the leadership of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, for President Yar’Adua might sooth the frayed nerves of Nigerians as he is expected to be fully recovered soon as a result of the combined prayers by the islamic clerics.
The belief among the Muslim faithful in Ilorin, as echoed by the Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Alhaji Ganiyu Cook-Olododo, is that being the seat of Alimi, the great Islamic scholar, no prayer had gone unanswered in the mosque.
’’You will all see that in the next couple of days our president will be fully recovered,’’he stressed’
All the party faithful, elected and appointed political office holders were in attendance.
Olododo said the people of the state believed in the efficacy of prayers, noting that there was no prayers held at the Oja-Oba, Central Mosque, Ilorin, that was not answered by Almighty Allah.
He, however, prayed to Allah go give sound health to President Yar’Adua to enable him continue with his progressive programmes for the people of the country.
The prayer, which was led by its state Chairman, Alhaji Yusuf Ayedun, who also told newsmen, yesterday, that the conduct of the special prayers for Mr. President was in line with the recent directives from the National Working Committee of the party in its last week’s meeting in Abuja.
He said since prayers remained the only solution to any problem, the organisation of the prayers by the leadership of the party and other people would go a long way towards putting an end to any unfortunate development that might occur during the President’s treatment in hospital.
Yusuf enjoined other people to rise up and assist the President overcome his ordeal.
Speaker, Emir joins prayer warriors
Also present were the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Babatunde Muhammed, members of the assembly and commissioners.
Others included the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari; monarchs across the three senatorial districts areas of the state, the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheikh Bashr Muhammed, Imam and Alfas and political groups across the state.
The prayer which started at 11.a.m, was led by the Chief Imam and supported by other leading Imams and Alfas in Ilorin at which they recited portions of the Holy Quran to ask for Allah’s bounties and blessings to grant President Yar’Adua speedy and sound health recovery.
Imam Muhammed said prayers remained a major tool to overcome the work of the devil and appealed to Almighty Allah to grant more long life and prosperity to President Yar’Adua so as to enable him return to Nigeria in earnest.
Ndokwa youths call for caution
Ndokwa youths at home and in the diaspora have asked Nigerians to rally round President Yar ‘Adua and pray for his quick recovery, saying the patriotic duty of Nigerians is to pray for his quick recovery.
“This ought to be paramount in our minds now, not trivialities bordering in his resignation from office,” the group said.
The group cautioned those it called ‘self-seeking politicians’ who wanted to politicise the medical condition of the President, saying it will not augur well for the country. It argued that times like these called for sober reflections, and that Nigerians must pause and ponder on the positive way forward.
In a statement, the President and the group’s Secretary-General, Ambassador Friday Osanbi and Mr Nzete Anselem, respectively, asked Nigerians to rally round the President and pray for his quick recovery.