Jonathan calls Council of State meeting on security, others
President Goodluck Jonathan will today meet former Heads of State and governors on the platform of the Council of State to address some pressing national issues.
There were concerns among the governors that President Goodluck sidelined the statutory bodies (including the Council of State) recognised by the 1999 Constitution, for the Economic Management Team (EMT) he created, in taking critical economic decisions.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that all members of the Council of State, including governors had been notified.
Other past Heads of State expected at the session are ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo; ex-President Shehu Shagari, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida; Chief Ernest Shonekan; and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
It was not clear last night whether Chief Obasanjo and Gen. Buhari would attend the meeting.
There was an open exchange of letters between President Jonathan and Obasanjo which might prevent the latter from attending the Council of State.
Also, Gen. Buhari is actively involved in opposition politics and it was learnt he would want to be careful on his contributions to national issues at such a session to avoid a backlash.
A source, who spoke in confidence last night, said: “We have issued notice to all council members as statutorily required. We expect a full house.
“All I can tell you is that the Council of State is a non-partisan body. And some of the issues which have negatively heightened tension in the country might be discussed at the session.
“The President will also brief Council of State members on some national issues, achievements and challenges facing the country.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “We have not got a firm commitment yet from Obasanjo on his attendance.
“But there is no way some members will not revisit his face-off with a sitting President. The truth is that some of them had intervened in the last one month to resolve the crisis of confidence between the two leaders.
Some of the issues likely to be discussed are:
•the 2014 Budget
•the proposed National Conference;
•the extension of the State of Emergency in three states in the Northeast;
•the crisis in Rivers State and fresh security challenges in Plateau, Borno, and Yobe with attacks on military formations;
• the change of Service Chiefs
•disagreement between the President and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on the state of the nation;
•proposed Constitution amendment;
•Reduction of political tension in the country;
•growing intolerance among political parties;
•the ongoing mutual suspicion between the President and some governors;
•the state of the economy, especially accruing revenue from oil and global challenges in the industry, and
•preparations for the 2015 poll which may dominate the third and fourth quarter of this year among others.
It was gathered that the National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki, might brief the Council of State on the security problems nationwide.
Another source added: “Definitely, we will get briefing on the worrisome security challenges in some parts of the country and what had been put in place to address these.
“As a matter of fact, the Council of State session is long over due. Some of us have been calling for it because we believe two heads are better than one if they are not rotten.
A governor said: “We got notice of the meeting but we have been unhappy that the President had failed to convene the Council of State meeting in spite of some challenges. He had been depending on his Economic Management Team (EMT) instead of the constitutionally recognised body like this.
“You can imagine that the Council of State had no input into the 2014 budget. We had no privilege of the economic direction of the nation. This was not the practice in the past.
“Maybe the crisis in PDP might have overstretched the presidency to the extent that it could not summon a meeting of the Council of State.”
Another governor said: “In spite of the agenda, we have some issues to table at the Council of State session. We won’t play fool gladly.”
Sections 5 and 6 of the Third Schedule (Part 1) to the 1999 Constitution say: “The Council of State shall comprise the following persons – (a)The President, who shall be the Chairman(b) The Vice President, Who shall be the Deputy Chairman; (c )All former Presidents of the Federation and all former Heads of Government of the Federation; (d)All former Chief Justices of Nigeria; (e)The President of the Senate; (f)The Speaker of the House of Representatives; (g)All former Governors of the States of the Federation; and (h) The Attorney-General of the Federation
“The Council shall have power to – Advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to the – (i) National Population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same. (ii) Prerogative of mercy. (iii) Award of National Honours. (iv) The Independent National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission). (v) The National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex officio members of that Council), and (vi) the National Population Commission (including appointment of members of that Commission; and
“Advise the President whenever requested to do so on the maintenance of public order within the Federation or any part thereof and on such other matters as the President may direct.”