Amaechi, Jang, Others To Shun New State Governors’ Inauguration

Two days to the expiration of their tenure, some governors have jetted out of the country, thereby refusing to personally hand over power to their successors.

They include Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, and his Katsina State counterpart, Ibrahim Shema.

Also, some governors, who did not travel out, have decided to shun the inauguration ceremonies of their successors.

Preparations for the inauguration of the nation’s 4th Republic intensified on Wednesday with Nigeria and the international community gearing up for the ceremony.

The President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, is expected to be inaugurated as the country’s Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces while governors are expected to be inaugurated in their respective states.

Lamido left Nigeria last week after handing over to the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Abdu Babura.

The governor, whose tenure expires on May 29, had before departing Nigeria for Saudi Arabia told newsmen last week Thursday that he was taking a well deserved rest.

At the conference, Lamido confirmed that he was leaving behind a debt of N2bn.

Putting the debt issue in perspective, the governor explained that of the N14bn debt in the name of the state, N12bn, which his administration used in the construction of the Dutse International Airport, was owed by the Federal Government.

Like Lamido, the outgoing Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, has jetted out of the country ahead of the inauguration.

The PUNCH gathered that Shema had last week Thursday left the state on an official trip to Abuja.

Further checks revealed that the governor had after performing the official inauguration of the state’s housing complex in Abuja, last weekend, left the shores of the country on Saturday night.

It was learnt that the Secretary to the State Government, Mukhtar Ibrahim, would represent Shema during the handover ceremonies slated to be held at the new multi-million naira Karkanda Stadium.

This is coming at a time when it is becoming clearer that some Peoples Democratic Party governors, who lost their states to the opposition All Progressives Congress, have concluded plans to avoid being physically present when their successors take over the reins of governance.

The Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has said that he will not be present at the swearing-in of his successor, Chief Nyesom Wike.

There had been speculations that Amaechi may not be present at Wike’s inauguration as a result of the controversy surrounding the presidential and governorship elections in the state.

But Amaechi, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. David Iyofor, explained that he would rather be at the swearing-in of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, in Abuja.

“Governor Amaechi at the inauguration ceremony of Wike? He (Amaechi) plans to attend the swearing-in of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari,” a text message sent to our correspondent by Iyofor read.

The Executive Assistant to the Plateau State Governor, Mr. Clinton Garuba, confirmed to one of our correspondents that his principal, Mr. Jonah Jang, is most likely not going to attend the handover ceremony.

Garuba explained that Jang was likely to heed the advice of his close aides to steer clear of the inauguration of his successor, Mr. Simon Lalong, on Friday.

Garuba explained that since there was no constitutional role assigned to the outgoing governor during such an occasion, “it will be unwise for him to be there.”

He revealed that the outgoing governor had already written a letter inviting Lalong to the Government House, Jos, to collect the handover notes on Thursday.

Garuba said, “Since it is the Chief Judge that swears in the governor, Jang has no role to play there. He is more or less going there as a spectator. So, we have advised him not to go but he has the discretion to heed to our advice or not.

“But he has written to the governor-elect to come to the Government House on Thursday, where he will hand over the notes to him officially.”

Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, who has not indicated any interest in leaving the shores of the country before Friday’s inauguration, said he would hand over the mantle of leadership to the incoming administration on Thursday – a day to the event – at the Makurdi Government House.

The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Cletus Akwaya, said that the state executive council took the decision after their last meeting today (Wednesday).

Akwaya said his principal had prepared the handover notes and was ready to hand over power to the incoming Governor Samuel Ortom.

The special adviser explained that Suswam had performed creditably well and deserved the commendation of the people of the state.

He, however, did not say whether or not Suswam would be present during the inauguration.

One of our correspondents gathered that civil servants in the state plan to boo Suswam should he attend the inauguration slated to take place on May, 29 at the IBB Square, Makurdi.

It was learnt that most civil servants in the state are unhappy with Suswam’s performance which they described as abysmal.

His administration is owing salary and pension arrears for four and six months respectively.

His Niger State counterpart, Babangida Aliyu, said that he had no plans to leave the state before the handover date. Aliyu said he had concluded plans to hand over to Sani Bello – the winner of the just concluded governorship election in the state.

The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Israel Ebije, told our correspondent that he had not abandoned his duties as he was still holding council meetings a few days to the handover date.

Ebije said, “He is even inaugurating projects. He believes governance is all about service and not subterfuge. He has no reason to shun a ceremony which symbolises democratic transition of power.”

According to him, Aliyu has served meritoriously and he will leave office as a hero.

“You know he is not a coward and the people of Niger are not blind to what he has done. For those who have turned a blind eye to his achievements, we should be sympathetic to their plight,” the aide said.

Buhari’s inauguration: Tight security in Abuja

Police and soldiers have beefed up security in Abuja ahead of Friday’s inauguration of Buhari as the president of the country.

Armed policemen and soldiers on Wednesday started checking vehicles in areas such as the Airport Road, Apo Roundabout, Asokoro and AYA.

At the Eagle Square, where the inauguration of the President and his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, (SAN), will take place, soldiers, who would parade on Friday, were seen practising.

There was heavy security at the square as people, including journalists, were not allowed in.

Also, as part of the preparations for the presidential inauguration, the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, has ordered tight security at the Eagle Square.

He has also directed his personnel to scale up security at major hotels where important dignitaries and foreign guests would be lodged.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, in Abuja, on Wednesday, said traffic on all roads around the Eagle Square would be diverted.

The statement added that major places within the Federal Capital Territory would be manned by security agents “as well as the mounting of Tactical Operation Points on all the roads leading into and out of FCT.”

The statement reads, “As part of preparations for a hitch-free presidential inauguration, the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, has ordered the diversion of traffic on all the roads around Eagle Square on Friday, May 29, 2015.”

Meanwhile, the various checkpoints mounted by armed soldiers, however, have been causing gridlock, especially in the evenings. The military checkpoints at Abuja City gate, Kubwa-Zuba Expressway and around Julius Berger Roundabout, Wuse, are sources of frustration to motorists.

Our correspondent observed that preparations for the inauguration are gathering momentum as a detachment of policemen, soldiers and naval officers daily rehearse for the ceremonial parade that will usher the nation into a new government.

Miniature flags that were mounted on street lights in different areas of the FCT had changed the face of the city, giving it a festive outlook.

The Bayelsa State Government will host President Goodluck Jonathan to a grand welcome reception on Friday and Saturday, investigation has revealed.

President Jonathan, who is handing over the reins of power to the incoming government of Buhari, lost his re-election bid in the March 28 presidential election.

Addressing journalists at a press conference on Wednesday evening at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Yenagoa, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Osueme Kikile, described Jonathan as a worthy son.

He described the outgoing President as a hero worthy of celebration by all.

Kikile said, “The fact that President Goodluck Jonathan (our hero) is returning home in good stead after administering the country for close to six years is worthy of celebration.

“The programme of his reception will begin on Friday 29. Jonathan will be received at the Government House helipad by Governor Seriake Dickson and other dignitaries.

“Thereafter, Jonathan will proceed to Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre for a grand reception. From Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre, Jonathan will proceed to his country home, Otuoke, where he will be hosted by his kinsmen.

“In the evening of Friday, he will be hosted at the Government Banquet Hall.”

The commissioner said that on Saturday, May 30, Jonathan would be the guest at an interdenominational service scheduled for St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Yenagoa.

He said in the course of the programme, there would be a slight restriction of movement.

Kikile, who said the restriction was for security reasons, urged the people of Bayelsa to bear the inconveniences the restriction might cause them.

He stated that the restriction would be along the road leading to the Banquet Hall of the Gabriel Okara Cultural Centre and St. Peter’s Anglican Church.

The commissioner, who said the President would arrive the state by 3pm on Friday, said the restrictions would begin an hour before his arrival.

He dismissed insinuations that Jonathan might not come with his wife, Patience, saying there were no indications to that effect.

“There is no indication that the President is not coming with the First Lady. There is also no indication of any rift between Jonathan and his wife,” he said.

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