Cablegate: Text of Nigerian Information Minister's Memorandum To
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SUBJECT: TEXT OF NIGERIAN INFORMATION MINISTER'S MEMORANDUM TO
REF: ABUJA 0137
1. (SBU) As reported in Reftel, Nigerian Information and
Communications Minister Dora Akunyili submitted a memorandum to
Cabinet colleagues at the February 3 Federal Executive Council
Meeting requesting that President Yar'Adua hand over power to Vice
President Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President. She later
withdrew the memorandum after receiving orders to do so. The text
subsequently appeared in local newspapers, despite a reported order
by Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mahmud Yayale
Ahmed not to disclose publicly the document's contents.
2. (SBU) U.S. Mission forwards the text of this memorandum,
entitled "State of the Nation," which Minister Akunyili forwarded
to the Ambassador on February 5, 2010:
State of the Nation
(1) I want to start my humble submission by stating that I am a
100 percent loyalist of President Yar'Adua. He appointed all of us
because he trusts us and wants us to help him to run government
effectively and efficiently. Mr. President has given all of us
seated in this chamber the opportunity to serve our nation as
members of this council. I believe that in the choice of all of
us, as individuals and group, Mr. President must have considered
our ability to guide him aright to serve our people better, promote
and protect the constitution in line with the oath of office taken
before him in this chamber by each and every one of us. President
Yar'Adua is very dear to me just as he is to all of you.
(2) We are all aware of what has been happening in Nigeria
especially as it concerns the issue of making the Vice President an
acting President. There have been debates for and against.
(3) Some have argued that there is no vacuum and that it is ok for
the Vice President to function as Vice President, not as Acting
President pending the return and recovery of Mr. President. For
the proponents of this theory, I want to remind them that Permanent
Secretaries had been waiting to be sworn in for over two months
now. Consequently, many ministries are without Permanent
Secretaries including my ministry. As it is today, the Vice
President cannot take any document to National Assembly. In a very
desperate situation like the recent Jos crisis, the Vice President
deployed troops to Plateau, but many have openly said that he does
not have the right because there cannot be two Commanders-in-Chief
at a time.
(4) Just recently, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta
(MEND) has opted out of the amnesty and resumed hostility. They
argued that they have been kept in limbo since the President took
ill and they appeared to have been abandoned since nobody could
talk to them or keep the promise made to them. Our economy is once
more being threatened.
(5) The past Chief Justice of the Federation swore in his
successor for the first time in the history of our nation. The
power vacuum at that level has also compounded our 'poor image' at
the international level because of our failure to rise to
international expectations, commitments and engagements that
require the presence of our President. Many of those opportunities
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have existed in the past 70 days that I do not need to recount. I
do not need to repeat the uncomplimentary statements made by United
States, United Kingdom and EU concerning the current state of
affairs in Nigeria.
(6) There has been persistent agitation by the public for members
of the Federal Executive Council to do something. Nigerians expect
us to rise to this challenge on behalf of our President as the
leader of this administration. Some eminent citizens have spoken.
They include former Heads of States and others who have served our
nation in various capacities. The Senate has also taken a position
of which we are all aware. The looming crisis in the system is
over boiling. Our hard earned democracy is being threatened by the
(7) What went wrong? We love our President but we should remember
that he is not infallible. Before he left Nigeria he had a moral
and constitutional obligation to officially inform the Senate and
hand over the mantle of leadership to the Vice President pending
his return and recovery. That did not happen. Yes, the mistake has
been made by our Boss and our brother. Mr. President is ill and
did not choose to be sick. But while we continue to pray for his
recovery, we should try to right the wrong.
(8) Some have argued that he left the country in a hurry. This
argument has been punctured by the fact that he signed the
Appropriation Bill for National Assembly. If he could sign the
Bill, why did he not sign a letter for Vice President to act on his
behalf until he is well enough?
(9) We have a local proverb that says that "A goat does not get
strangulated by the rope used in tying it when an adult is
present." We are all in a better position to know that the polity
is overheated to a frightening level. Posterity will judge us
harshly if we do not positively intervene to resolve this logjam.
(10) I wish to call on the Federal Executive Council to act now in
the best interest of our dear President and our dear Nation. We
also need to save ourselves from shame because our stand is
becoming very embarrassing. He has been away for about 70 days
now. Even if he returns tomorrow, is it not better for him to rest
and recover before taking over from the Vice President?
(11) We need to do what is morally right and constitutional for
the President to officially hand over to the Vice President to
function as Acting President.
(12) I am not saying that President Yar'Adua should resign or
condemn him for being sick. He did not choose to be sick. We will
continue to pray for him, but all I am saying is, let us encourage
him do the right thing so that our hard earned democracy will not
be truncated. Anybody who feels otherwise is unfair to our
President (who has been preaching the rule of law), and utterly
unfair to our country.
(13) The name of our President and all his achievements are being
rubbished by this unfortunate debacle. The President and his
family are also being put under undue pressure which will not help
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(14) If we fail to act now, history will not forgive us. I rest
Prof. Dora Akunyili
Minister of Information and Communications.
February 3rd, 2010.
End of Text.