Roaring back to life  | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Inside the Presidency

Roaring back to life 

Posted: Apr 19, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Inside The Presidency

Life is apparently returning to the Villa. The place had been knocked into some lethargy by the shocking defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan by Muhammadu Buhari of the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential elections of three weeks ago.

Although visitors are still a trickle, news has not been scarce as more activities have been holding and a fresher-looking President Jonathan has been holding court.

It looked like while others were analysing the polls, the President was also studying the Constitutional Amendments presented d to him by the National Assembly for assent. He was not totally impressed. And the week started with a rare exercise of presidential power of veto with his public objection to some of the amendments, including those he believed amounted to usurping the powers of the presidency, which he would soon be quitting anyway.

It is pleasantly surprising that an outgoing president still bothered to protect an office he would be saying goodbye to in a matter of days, and had little or nothing to benefit from the amendments. In any case, he raised his objection in a letter to the lawmakers, detailing his reservations and exercising his veto power against the amendments.

Another rare and curious occurrence surrounding that veto was the leakage of the letter to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. Ordinarily, the President’s correspondence to the leadership of the National Assembly is regarded as top secret until it is read on the floor of the either chamber of the federal legislature. This was not to be this time around as one highly placed official preferred to flout the convention.

Who knows, this could have contributed to the ire of the lawmakers over the issue as the leakage might have been viewed as a deliberate effort of the Presidency to achieve a certain objective. Whatever the circumstance, this veto may be another low point in the relationship between President Jonathan and the current National Assembly.

While the storm raged in the National Assembly, the President moved on to chair the first Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting since he lost the presidential election. Not much was expected, especially in the approval of award of contracts.

New, but outgoing Minister of Information, Patricia Akwashiki, who was briefing State House Correspondents for the first time on the outcome of the FEC meeting, confirmed that the cabinet was in transition mode. There was no contract award as the focus was on measures towards a smooth handover to the awaiting government of Buhari.

Part of these measures turned out to be an unprecedented handover dinner for Buhari on the eve of the usual handover date of May 29. President Jonathan wants to hand over power to his successor that night; but that will remain symbolic because the Constitution allows the new President to assume office only on May 29. However, the handover dinner will be a welcome development as it is expected to further ease tension, lighten the mood and welcome the new government into Aso Rock with a ‘warm embrace’. Good development and still in tune with the spirit of President Jonathan’s peaceful concession of defeat to Buhari.

Vice President Namadi Sambo’s office has also picked up after the lull following the presidential and governorship elections fallout. He chaired the valedictory sessions of two bodies he chairs. On Thursday, it was the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) during which the long-winding sale of moribund NITEL/Mtel was moved a step further with the directive to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to hand over the firm’s to the new owners, NATCOM Consortium.

The following day, Friday, Sambo also chaired this administration’s final meeting of the Board of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited. The imminent change of government notwithstanding, the NPDPHC resolved to go ahead with the commissioning of already completed power plants across the country with a view to boosting national electricity supply.

But one take away from that meeting and the press briefing afterwards is the advice from the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, to the incoming administration. Nebo wants the new government to intensify and digitise security surveillance of the oil and gas pipelines across the country because the unrelenting vandalism of the infrastructure has been the source of one of the major frustrations of the outgoing administration in the quest to improve electricity supply in the country. With the controversies about oil theft in the Niger Delta, this is indeed food for thought.