THE Council of State, on Tuesday, approved May 28 as the date President Goodluck Jonathan will hand over all necessary official transaction documents to the president-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, before his formal inauguration as president a day later.

Jonathan is also to take the incoming president on a guided tour of the Presidential Villa on the eve of the inauguration, which would be followed by a dinner.

The council, presided over by President Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, had all living former Nigerian leaders, including former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in attendance.

Obasanjo, who came into the Villa accompanied by one of his daughters, Funke, was well received by Jonathan inside the Council Chambers, venue of the meeting, as both men talked and laughed with each other.

The former president was absent in February’s meeting of the council, fuelling speculation about his soured relationship with Jonathan.

The former leaders present at Tuesday’s meeting were General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Buhari, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, who was joined by his Benue State counterpart, Gabriel Suswam, asserted that all the official  documents prepared by the transition committees would be handed over to Buhari on May 28, while May 29 would be reserved for the inauguration and swearing-in of the new president.

The May 28 handover of documents was not well received by the All Progressives Congress (APC), when it was initially muted by government, as the government was forced to emphasise that May 29 remained the handover date.

But explaining the decision of the council, Governor Suswam revealed that it advised that the new template be followed in subsequent transition in the country, whether or not it involved same party.

“Council decided that henceforth, there has to be a template which transition will follow. We have never had it. This is the first time one is going to be developed, so that there is no speculation as to what needs to be done, as everything will be in a template.

“If there is a transition, whether from the same party to the same party or from one party to another, it is the same template. You will recall that we have never had a template which to follow and how we go about our transition, but what is going to happen this time around is going to be permanent,” he said.

The council commended Jonathan over the successful conduct of the general election and his decision to concede defeat, which it said led to the prevailing peace in the country.

According to Governor Aliyu, the motion to commend the president for his action and the magnanimity of Buhari was moved by General Gowon.

He revealed that invitations had been sent out to world leaders for the May 29 inauguration and appealed to Nigerians invited for the occasion to be prompt.

Suswam further said the National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd), gave a comprehensive briefing on the security situation in the country, especially on Boko Haram.

He said Sambo observed that Nigeria had relaxed on security after the civil war and was, therefore, not prepared for the Boko Haram onslaught, adding that the country had never shared intelligence with neighbours but now all of them had been brought on board.

He said the NSA told the council that Nigeria was now better prepared to fight such insurgency, as security agencies were now better trained.

“The incoming administration will pick up from what has been done. The incoming administration will have less problems than the Jonathan-led administration,” Suswam said, adding that “Nigerians should, therefore, feel more confident.”

The council also discussed the issue of incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers and presented a document containing how the problem may be resolved by the incoming administration.

Suswam, who spoke on this, said “there is a document that states what needs to be done that will reduce the clashes which has resulted in a number of IDPs in places like Niger, Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa. These are places you have incessant clashes between the herdsmen and farmers.”

The document, he said, recommended among other things that cattle be confined to ranch-like locations and fed rather than being moved around the country.

Tuesday’s Council of State is the last life of the present administration.

Also at the meeting were Vice President Namadi Sambo; Senate President, David Mark; Speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal and some former Chief Justices of Nigeria (CJNs), including Alfa Belgore, Idris Kutigi and Muhammadu Lawal Uwais.

States represented by their governors were Ogun, Ondo, Zamfara, Taraba, Adamawa, Sokoto, Rivers, Plateau, Bayelsa, Benue, Niger, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Gombe, Bauchi and Ebonyi.

Kano, Kogi, Oyo, Yobe and Imo were represented by their deputy governors.

The meeting was also attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim; Chief of Staff to the President, Brigadier-General Jones Arogbofa, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Dasuki (retd).


Culled from Tribuneonlineng