Jonathan’s May 28 Handover To Create Power Vacuum Before Swearing in

President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to formally handover to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on May 28 will create a power vacuum for a few hours between the period he hands over and the morning of May 29 when his successor will be formally sworn-in as the president.

Making the president’s intention to deviate from the norm, the Minister of Information,  Mrs. Patricia Akwashiki, who briefed State House correspondents on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said Jonathan would formally handover to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on May 28 at a dinner

She added that he had directed all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government to submit their handover briefs to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on or before April 20.

However, speaking on the May 28 handover date proposed by the president, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said the new date was a deviation from the law as a vacuum would be created should he handover before Buhari’s swearing in.

“As far as the law is concerned, President Jonathan is in charge of the country until May 29. He cannot cut short his presidency in the name of handing over the day before at a dinner, as there is no provision for a vacuum.

“He is the president till the morning of May 29 when Buhari takes the oath of office. There is no provision for a vacuum of eight or nine hours, and I am sure the president will be properly advised,” he said.

During the briefing, Akwashiki, said: “You know we are already in transition, so there is very little to report. What we discussed with the president in council, he emphasised on the need for all MDAs to submit their handover notes to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation by the 20th of this month, that is next Monday.

“So we are going to be very busy this weekend putting our handover notes together.

“The president also emphasised that he would require another briefing from all MDAs to indicate inherited projects, how far they have been executed; and initiated projects by his administration and the level of completion, whether completed, ongoing or abandoned.

“We discussed other issues but we were particularly paying attention to the transition and how to make it effective. As you are all aware, we have a transition committee already set up by the president, headed by the vice-president. Other than that we have an inaugural committee that is headed by the SGF.

“So everything we are doing is aimed at achieving a smooth transition, and getting all our notes together.”

According to the minister, by May 28, the president will formally hand over at a dinner, while May 29 would be reserved for the incoming government.

“By May 28, we expect to have wrapped up this administration and we will be welcoming the incoming one. Also, you know May 29 is Democracy Day so we will have activities lined up all through that week showcasing all what we have achieved and all other things we normally do on our Democracy Day, except that this year is special with the inauguration of our new president who is coming up on May 29,” she explained.

Asked if council meetings would continue or put on hold, Akwashiki provided further clarification on the handover format to be used by the MDAS, stating: “It is for the MDAs to submit their notes to the SGF who will handle the total package of the handover to the incoming administration.

“There is a format to follow and so it becomes easier for all the MDAs to follow the template. If they do that it will be easier for the president to compile everything.

“The format is to ensure you submit everything before they pass it to the incoming government. That is not to say that governance has stopped, of course we are in government until the day the president-elect takes the oath of office.

“There will be no vacuum, as there are things happening. And if you have any pending contract approval it has to be submitted before the 13th of May.

“Everything that requires the president’s approval should be submitted before May 13.

“We also do not want the incoming administration to accuse us of rushing projects, which is normal, so we are guided by that. And if you have approvals, we are going to have Federal Executive Council meetings every week, the last one that will be the valedictory one on May 20.

“So governance is not stopping, we are still working and in the event you have approvals it must be concluded before May 13.”

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