Nigeria: At The Edge Of Transition | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Cover Choice

Nigeria: At The Edge Of Transition

Posted: May 24, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ekene Okoro Lagos

In about five days, Nigeria will have a new President. The significance, however, is the fact that for the first time in 16 years, the party in government, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will relinquish power to the opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC).

CoverChoice1Since 1999, when Nigeria made the historic return to democratic system of government, the PDP had held sway.

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, after eight years in the saddle, passed on the baton to late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua in 2007, still under the platform of the PDP.

Though Yar Adua passed on after just three years in office, President Goodluck Jonathan who was the Vice President was sworn in as President to finish the tenure.

The PDP’s winning streak was however brought to an end following the defeat of President Jonathan at the March 28 polls, paving way for a new government under a different political party.

But the significance of an entirely new government taking over has come with its own challenges.

The road to that transition has not been a smooth sailing.  Since the outcome of the 2015 general elections, both the APC and the PDP have been at crossroads, bickering at every slightest opportunity.

Some Nigerians had felt that the decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to concede defeat long before the result of the presidential election had been announced, as well as the acceptance speech of President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari suggesting that he was magnanimous in defeat was a good sign of what was to come.

With the May 29 handover date approaching a joint transition committee made up of members of the present and the incoming administration was set up to ensure smooth inauguration.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim was appointed as Chairman of the 14-member Presidential inaugurating committee while former Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva was named Co-Chairman Chairman of the joint transition committee and the head of the 13-member committee drawn from the incoming government of Buhari.

When the joint committee met on April 25 at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Anyim disclosed that there are two parallel transition committee and inauguration committee which would work out plans for week-long handover activities.

Anyim explained that the two parallel transitions, which would work independent of each other, would interface for a successful transition.

According to him, the mandate of the committee is to draw up programmes of activities for the inauguration ceremony, “arrange invitations and accommodation for foreign and local dignitaries.

The committee is also to organise approved programme of activities, draw up the budget” and co-opt into sub-committees persons that may be necessary to assist in the discharge of activities.

Anyim said the committee has planned one week programme of activities, each of which is as important as the other. These include “press briefing, Jumat prayers, inter-denominational “church service, inauguration dinner, “swearing-in ceremony.

Bickering Over Terms Of Reference

However, a week after the transition committees held its inaugural meeting, the camaraderie that trailed the elections seemed to have fizzled out as both parties have returned to their bitter rivalry.

The bickering has extended to the transition committees set up by the outgoing and incoming administration to ensure smooth transition of government come May 29.

The first sign of a cold war came to fore shortly after the President-elect inaugurated his 19-man transition committee led by one time Federal Permanent Secretary, Ahmed Joda.

The committee proceeded to release its terms of reference to the outgoing administration to furnish them with vital information about the goings on as far as government decisions and policies are concerned.

But the document didn’t go down well with the transition committee set up by President Jonathan and headed by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo.

The committee picked some holes in the demands made by the President-elect and duly warned against running a parallel government.

To the committee, the terms of terms of reference of its counterpart, had appeared as if the Jonathan administration were subject and answerable to the committee and further suggested that the President-elect appeared “too much of a hurry” to take over.

Minister of National Planning, Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman, also reechoed the position of President Jonathan shortly after one of its Executive Council meetings and emphasised that it was not in any way going to succumb to the demand.

Sulaiman, who acts as chairman of the Technical Subcommittee of the outgoing government’s transition committee said the Federal Government took exception to some utterances and terms of reference of the Joda-led committee, noting that such actions were suggesting that the current government was either being stampeded or being intimidated.

In his words, “We did receive from the incoming government’s transition committee some terms of reference which we looked at critically and council did agree that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan remains the current head of government of this country.

“The incoming government should avoid creating a parallel government while the government is still on. We take exception to some utterances and some of the terms of reference that look as if the current government is being stampeded or intimidated.

“Council frowned on “most of the statements, most of the provocations and council members are advised to work in line with the terms of reference of the current government. Council members are also told that the terms of reference as formatted by our transition committee should be strictly complied with.

“When the incoming government takes over government, they can come out with their programmes, they can come out with their own “agenda, they can decide to come out with policies in the way they feel like.

“This government remains resolute to the various programmes and projects “it is pursuing and the government will continue to do that until the morning of May 29.”