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Playing politics with handover

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Jonathan dr CopySIR: It is just well that the Federal Government has recanted on an earlier announcement to hand over government on May 28. The other day, as I opened my phone to make a call, I stumbled on this piece of information online, credited to the Minister of Information, that President Goodluck Jonathan plans to hand over the reins of power to the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, at a dinner on May28 – about eight hours ahead of the usual May 29 official oath-taking date by the new President.

What actually caught my attention was the way the news was captioned, “Nigeria to be without President for eight hours”, I ha wanted to waive the news aside as another social-media hype, but the spirit in me would not allow it. And the questions arose: “What occasion really makes the President? Is it the handover ceremony by the outgoing President or the swearing-in to be presided-over by the Chief Justice of the Federation?

In other words, can the President-elect assume executive powers “immediately after the handover ceremony even when he has not taken the oath of office which is expected to be performed on May 29? Taking it further, who takes charge during the eight-hour interlude in case of a national emergency? Should the eight-hour interlude of a nation without a de-facto leader which may eventually form a vaccum in our constitutional development have been allowed if there was no volte face ?

If President Goodluck Jonathan is not willing to be at the Eagles’ Square on May 29, he could as well have planned the ceremony for the Presidential Villa on Democracy Day to avoid any lacuna. The President has done well by conceding victory. And we urge him not to leave the ship of state rudderless at the threshold of another harbour. He should anchor the ship.

•Gbemiga Olakunle,
National Prayer Movement.


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