Investigation revealed that the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan and the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) are set to clash over a proposal by the Jonathan team to hand over the mantle of leadership to Buhari on May the 28th, instead of the 29th.
It was gathered that the Buhari team was already over what they considered as an act of ill-will laced with sinister motives.
This is sequel to an announcement by the Minister of Information, Senator Patricia Akwashiki, that President Jonathan would perform the handover ceremony at a dinner on May 28.
Akwashiki made the announcement after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting.
She told journalists, “By May 28, the President intends to have the formal handover done at a dinner so that we can reserve May 29 for the incoming government.”
However, since the return of democracy in 1999, the traditional date for the handover of power has been May 29, which is also observed as Democracy Day.
This tradition has been the vogue for the past 16 years. It also presents an opportunity for the outgoing President to formally present the instrument of authority to his successor in the full glare of members of the public, local and international media, as well as foreign dignitaries.
A top member of the All Progressives Congress, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media said, “It is simply not acceptable, we are rejecting it, it is a trap.”
He explained that from a security point of view, it could be considered a trap.
“How can anyone explain a situation where an outgoing president and his team will conveniently excuse themselves from an event where they are supposed to play a role when the President-elect and the Vice-President- elect are supposed to be present?” he queried.
According to the party chieftain, power abhors a vacuum as such, the constitution does not envisage a situation where Nigeria will be without a sitting President even for one hour.
He said, “If Jonathan hands over on the 28th, who accounts for the hours before the morning of the 29th when the Chief Justice of the Federation is to administer the oath of office and the oath of allegiance?
“What if there is even a sinister motive to this whole saga? As the President of the nation; who will still be the Chief Security officer until he hands over, there is no excuse that is strong enough to excuse him from the event.”
When contacted, a member of the Buhari campaign team, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said while he was not privy to any meeting on the subject yet, it was only logical to ask Nigerians not to rest on their oars until total liberation was achieved.
He described the announcement by President Jonathan to hand over a day earlier than was due as a ploy to rubbish the gains made with the historic win by the opposition APC.
Fashakin said, “It (the proposed handover on the 28th) portends ill for the political destiny of this nation.
“That statement is loaded and it shows that the Nigerian people should not rest yet that there is still ominous signs which we should never take for granted. If Jonathan truly said he is handing over on the 28th it presupposes that he will be absent on the 29th.
“Number one, if he hands over on the 28th to the President-elect, does Gen. Muhammadu Buhari start to act effectively on that date? The answer is an emphatic NO.
“GMB does not start to act on that date, if you get what I mean. Handing over to GMB on that date is not only meaningless, it is stupid. It has no meaning in law, or reality. It means that for 24 hours before GMB takes over there will be a vacuum.”
He further argued that on the side of morality, Nigeria borrowed its constitution substantially from the American Constitution, and as such, it should learn a thing or two about how it operates.
He said there was never a time in recorded history where an outgoing American President, who is hale and hearty, will absent himself from the handover ceremony of his successor no matter their political differences.
Although, it is not yet clear how the Buhari team would handle “this threat,” it was learnt that the party’s legal team is being put on notice to be on the alert.