ABUJA (CODEWIT) â€“ Nigeria’s influential state governors backed a proposal Friday for Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to be acting head and end a vacuum following President Umaru Yar’Adua’s lengthy hospitalisation abroad.
The decision of the 36 governors came after an emergency meeting which ended early Friday.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum said in a statement that it “resolved to meet the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to urging them to pass a resolution to formally recognize the Vice President as the acting president in the interest of the nation.”
They urged parliament to pass a resolution to that effect next week.
“The Forum calls on all arms of governments to continue to give full and total support to the acting president until the president returns in the interest of our dear and beloved country,” they said.
The governors met with Jonathan in his office after issuing the communique, presidency sources said.
“We now agreed to meet with the leadership of the National Assembly to urge them to pass a resolution recognising the vice president as the acting president of the nation,” Forum leader Bukola Saraki, who is governor of central Kwara State, told journalists after the meeting.
“We unanimously resolved that all arms of government should support the vice president to discharge his duties as acting president of the country,” Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio also told reporters.
“He (Jonathan) was happy with the decision of the governors,” he added.
Yar’Adua has been hospitalised since November 23 in Saudi Arabia for an acute heart condition.
Critics and analysts said that his absence has created a political vacuum.
The governors’ call for Jonathan to be made acting vice president follows similar calls by some former Nigerian heads of state, the Senate, the Nigerian Bar Association, civil groups, and Information Minister Dora Akunyili.
In a memo to the cabinet at a meeting on that day, Akunyili told her ministerial colleagues to note that the power vacuum “has compounded our ‘poor image’ at the international level because of our failure to rise to international expectations, commitments and engagements that require the presence of our president.”
Her submission is the first clear indication of a split in the cabinet over the president’s long absence and failure to comply with section 145 of the constitution stipulating processes on the interim transfer of power to the vice president.
Until he took over as Nigeria’s president in May 2007, Yar’Adua, 58, was governor of his northern Katsina home state for eight years.