The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday warned the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, against constituting himself into a parallel government ahead of the May 29th handover date.
However, General Buhari’s spokesman, Alhaji Garba Shehu, told the Daily Times that the outgoing government was only being fussy by the allegation.
FEC expressed objection to some utterances by the President-elect as well as some points of reference handed over to the transition committee of the incoming government, headed by elder statesman, Alhaji Ahmed Joda.
Specifically, the FEC said that the actions of the Buhari team suggested that the sitting government was being stampeded or intimidated.
The Minister of National Planning, Suleiman Abubakar, told State House correspondents that the magnanimity of President Goodluck Jonathan should not be mistaken for cowardice. Abubakar joined his information counterpart, Patricia Akwashiki to brief the reporters after the weekly FEC meeting.
The National Planning Minister told the reporters that he speaking at the press conference in his capacity as chairman of a sub-committee in the Federal Government’s transition committee.
Also on Wednesday, FEC approved the establishment of two new private universities in Delta and Imo states.
Wednesday’s resolution by FEC tends to lend credence to the insinuation that the relationship between the Federal Government’s transition committee headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo and that of Buhari had been frosty.
According to Abubakar, President Jonathan had consequently directed heads of ministries, departments and agencies to carry on with their duties and not feel intimidated.
He said: “We did receive from in-coming government transition committee some terms of reference which we looked at critically. And council did agree that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-led administration remains the current government of this country.
“The incoming government should avoid creating a parallel government while the government is still on.
“We take exceptions to some utterances, to some of the terms of reference that looked as if the current government is being stampeded or intimidated.
“Council frowned at most of the statements, most of the provisions and council members are advised to work in line with the terms of reference of the current government.
“Council members are also that the terms of reference as formatted by our transition committee should be strictly complied with.”
He added that the Buhari-led incoming government should be patient and not be in a hurry as they would have all the time to implement their programmes from May 29.
“When the incoming government takes over government, they can come out with their programmes, they can come out with their own agenda, they can decide to come out with policies with the way they feel like.
“This government remains resolute to the various programmes and projects it’s pursuing and the government will continue to do that until the morning of May 29th.
“While Council enjoined members to be steadfast, Mr. President also enjoined members to come out with programmes, projects to be commissioned, that need to be inspected and members in council should work as government, should perform their work without intimidation and that government especially civil servants, directors, director generals should see this government as the current government and not do anything that will rock the boat so as not to put this country in a bad light.
“The magnanimity of Mr. President should not be taken to be cowardice, and that is why Mr. President and indeed council members enjoined Nigerian people to see the olive branch extended to Nigerians and international community as a way of keeping this country intact, as a way of ensuring peace in Nigeria, and as such whatever the outcome of the election, what is important is Nigeria’s national interest. And that national interest should be protected, enhanced and promoted at whatever level we are.
“These are issues that bothered on transition programme discussed in council.
“These are issues before the transition committee, these are issues that were raised on transition programme.”
On the level of work so far achieved by the transition committee, the National Planning Minister said 80 percent of the committee’s work had already been done as almost all the MDAs had turned in their handover notes and executive summaries.
“We did mention to council that as at yesterday 28th April, almost all the MDAs that were advised to submit briefs, handing over notes have complied except for one or two ministries.
“The committee is having on ground right now two versions of presentations, we have the executive summaries of all the MDAs hand over notes and the entire hand over notes from almost all the MDAs.
“The transition process is on course in terms of hand over notes and briefs, we have covered almost 80 per cent of our assignments,” Abubakar said.
The two new universities approved by FEC are Edwin Clark University to be located in Delta and Hezekiah University to be sited in Imo state.
The approval, according to Akwashiki, followed a memo presented to council by the Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau.
She said the new universities would address the inadequate access to university education and enrollment of students in the country.
According to the Information Minister, “the National Universities commission (NUC) also explained to Council why the two universities merited approvals and there were so approved.”
On Nigerians killed in Indonesia for drug related offences, Akwashiki explained that, the Foreign Affairs ministry had been on it before the execution.
He described the incident as unfortunate and urged Nigerians wishing to travel and earn a living abroad to be mindful of the kind of things they do so as not to fall foul of the laws of their host countries.
Akwashiki while fielding questions from Journalists at the post FEC briefing also assured that the fuel queues would soon disappear from the filling stations as government would commence payment of subsidy arrears to oil marketers today (Thursday).
She also blamed the suspension of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Danjuma Sheni by the Federal Government on breach of procedures by the Perm Sec.