Some forces in the Presidency and the National Assembly have reportedly launched a plot to quietly put in place a succession arrangement in the event that ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua finds it difficult to continue in office. THISDAY reports that a crucial meeting was held in Abuja Tuesday night where the succession arrangement, considered as a viable option in the current circumstance of Yar’adua’s continued hospitalisation, was laid bare.
A presidency source, who claimed to be part of the meeting, said the leadership of the Senate was fully in the know of the arrangement being put in place to stabilize the nation “in the event that the eagle (referring to Yar’Adua) can no longer fly.”
The source said “while it is constitutionally settled that the Vice President will step in as President, the choice of a Vice President will have to be made through consultations and consensus among the stakeholders in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party PDP).”
He hinted that the search for a possible candidate for the position of Vice President, as agreed, would be restricted to the Senate and specifically the Northwest zone.
Yar’Adua is from Katsina in Northwest zone. The presidency was ceded to the zone in the 2007 presidential elections while the Vice Presidency currently occupied by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was ceded to the South-South zone. The ceding of the strategic political offices was done to ensure fair distribution and balance among the six geo-political zones.
Most significantly, the presidency resided in the southern part of the country from 1999 to 2007 with Olusegun Obasanjo in the saddle. Atiku Abubakar from the northern part of the country was Vice President.
From May 29, 2007, the presidency had moved up to the northern part with Yar’Adua in the saddle while the vice presidency moved to the southern part with Jonathan in the saddle.
This arrangement, as envisaged ab initio, was to last till 2015, but for the health challenges of Yar’Adua, the custodian of the presidential mandate on behalf of the north.
The tentative health status of Yar’Adua, as learnt, is bound to alter the calculations and shape of the 2011 elections as plans are already afoot to ensure that there is no vacuum in the event he (Yar’Adua) becomes incapacitated to apply himself to the rigours of statecraft.
The source, who hinted about the succession arrangement said, “About five senators, both serving and former, from the Northwest, would be listed for consideration for the position of Vice President.
“Certain qualities and criteria will be looked out for: brilliance and depth of the candidate; and the fact that such a candidate will be loyal and not ambitious.”
He said that the arrangement being put together “does not accommodate any former governor whether in the Senate or outside the Senate” apparently to ensure that an ambitious Vice President does not emerge in the event of the need to actualize the succession arrangement.
But the Senate yesterday distanced itself from the purported succession arrangement.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze said, “These are wild speculations”
Eze added: “These views are not founded in reality. As far as we are concerned, the National Assembly, this matter does not concern the National Assembly. There is no truth in it
THENATION: Jonathan, Ogbulafor hold secret talks over Yar’Adua
Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders have been meeting behind closed doors over the state of health of President Umaru Yar’Adua and the jostling for power by some governors.
Besides, the anticipated video conference with the Federal Executive Council by Yar’Adua did not hold yesterday.
The President has been in King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for treatment for acute pericarditis (inflammation of the heart’s linning).
The leaders met with Jonathan on Monday and Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Those at the meeting included the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor; the Deputy National Secretary, Musa Babayo; and the National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke. There were others whose names could not be immediately ascertained yesterday.
It was gathered that the meeting was convened at the instance of the PDP leadership to address “issues surrounding the health of the President”.
The party leadership is worried about the jostling for power by some governors from the North when there is no vacancy, The Nation learnt.
A highly-placed source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The leaders came to express their worry over the attitude of some governors and PDP stalwarts to the health of the President.
“They also queried the rationale behind the jostle for power by some governors and the implications on the unity of the party. They said the party is standing by the President and Goodluck and expressed confidence that the President will return to take charge very soon.”
The source added that the Vice-President was quiet throughout the two sessions.
He said: “The VP took time to listen to the party leaders but he avoided any commitment after noting their observations.”
There were strong indications yesterday that President Yar’Adua could not hold a video conference with members of the Federal Executive Council as planned yesterday because he was “a bit down”.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The actual plan was for the President to speak with FEC members and some state governors but he was a bit down in the early hours of the day. He had to take some drips.
“The President won’t address the nation or any select group until he is strong enough. In fact, the doctors have been repeatedly cautioning against overstressing the President.
“But the First Lady, Hajiya Turai Yar’Adua, spoke with some governors in the afternoon and assured that all was well with the President.”