by Dare Lawal
These are interesting times in Nigeria. Never before has a ruling party handed over power to the opposition in the country. Unsurprisingly, there was no template about how such a transition season should take place.
At yesterday’s council of state meeting which held at the presidential villa in Abuja, the council adopted a template which will guide the coming and future transitions in the country.
It was a pretty simple and straightforward template: a Jumat prayer on the Friday before the handover; a thanksgiving service on the Sunday before the handover; a tour of the villa for the incoming president and his deputy, handing over of notes and a dinner to be done on the eve of the inauguration, and the inauguration proper on May 29.
Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam and Niger state governor Babangida Aliyu disclosed these to State House correspondents at the end of the Council of State meeting.
According to Suswam, the council of state decided to adopt a template to be followed during transitions in Nigeria as this is the first time an opposition will take over from a ruling party. Suswam said that the template will be followed whether the handover is from one party to another or within the same party.
“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 it is 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 in 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.
On the transition, Aliyu said: “One is inauguration, the formality of the new president taking over. Technically, the 29th is for the man taking over. For handing over documents, you don’t wait till that 29th because after the inauguration the transition committee may continue.
“If you recall, when President Jonathan came on board, he inaugurated the Gen. (Theophilus) Danjuma Committee to look at all the documents that were handed over to them and make recommendations. So it is a continous thing.
“The handing over of documents from the outgoing President to the incoming President-elect will take place on the 28th and the inauguration on the 29.”
He said: “Every Ministry, department and agency that has worked for government, including all the funds that have been collected, how they have been utilised and the assets and the liabilities of government will all be put together in documents and be handed over to the incoming government. Officially, the government will be handed over on the 28th of May.
“The inauguration is on the 29th, as you know the committees have concluded their arrangements. Invitations have been sent out to all the presidents of African countries, including presidents and prime ministers of the G8, including multilateral heads, like the United Nations, Commonwealth, ECOWAS, African Union. We expect a beautiful ceremony on the 29th.”
Reeling out the programme, Aliyu said: “22nd is Jumat prayer, 24th will be Sunday service, 28th will be handing over as well as dinner and 29th inauguration, a lunch and a gala night.”
Aliyu disclosed that being the last council meeting to be presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, “a thank you and gratitude motion was moved by Gen. Yakubu Gowon, reiterating all the beautiful things that have happened in the Council of State and thanking Mr. President and all the members of Council for their contribution to the development and unity of Nigeria.
“Particularly, the responses of both President Goodluck Jonathan and the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; President Goodluck Jonathan in conceding defeat and the magnanimity of Gen. Buhari, which set the tone for the peaceful and unifying forces that came into Nigeria.”
“That today you can hardly notice the tension that was there before the elections and we hope that this convention and this tradition that we have established will continue in our subsequent elections. That those people defeated will accept and those elected will be magnanimous in victory.”