Africa

Jonathan holds crucial meeting with N’Assembly, PDP leaders

Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday met behind closed doors with the leadership of the National Assembly and the national executive of the Peoples Democratic Party.

No official reason was given for the meeting but our correspondent learnt that it might not be unconnected with the state of the nation, especially the controversy over President Umaru Yar’Adua’s absence from the country and the Jos violence.

The meeting which was not listed on the Vice-President’s official itinerary for Tuesday, was also attended by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

The National Assembly leaders at the meeting were the President of the Senate, Mr. David Mark; his deputy , Chief Ike Ekweremadu; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole; and his deputy, Alhaji Ibrahim Nafada.

Others at the meeting were the National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor; the National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje; the Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed; and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa.

A source told our correspondent that the meeting decided that its details should be kept secret.

He said, “The meeting deliberated on the calls for the Vice-President to be formally installed as acting-President in the absence of President Yar’Adua, whose absence from the country had become prolonged.”

He added that the recent Abuja Federal High Court ruling asking Jonathan to discharge the functions of the President was part of the agenda of the meeting.

Saraki and Bankole were the only ones that officially responded to journalists enquiries.

While Bankole said, “This time, your Speaker will not speak,” Saraki merely replied that “It (meeting) went well.”

There were speculations in the Presidential Villa that the meeting might today (Wednesday) herald a major shift in the debates triggered by Yar’Adua’s absence from the country.

There had been intense pressure on the leadership of the National Assembly, and the Federal Executive Council, to put in place constitutional procedures that would ensure that the vice-president became acting President in the absence of a formal letter to that effect from the President.

However, the ruling had failed to stop the ongoing debate over the President’s health and calls on him to write the National Assembly to enable Jonathan become Acting-President.

Meanwhile, today’s (Wednesday’s) FEC meeting is slated to commence 30 minutes earlier than usual, as it was disclosed on Tuesday that the meeting, which normally starts by 10am, will begin at 9.30am today.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Yar’Adua may address the meeting through a video conference.

It was gathered that issues surrounding the President’s health would feature prominently at the meeting.

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