President Goodluck Jonathan will hand over power to the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, on May 28, about 24 hours before the actual inauguration date. The Minister of Information, Patricia Akwashiki, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday [April 15].
Akwashiki said Jonathan would perform the ceremony at a dinner on the eve of the May 29 Democracy Day. She said, “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. “By May 28, we are expected to have concluded our own government and we are welcoming the incoming government.
“Also you know May 29 is our Democracy Day. So, we have activities lined up all through that week, showcasing all what we have achieved and all other things we do normally on our Democracy Day except that this year is special with the inauguration of our new President that is coming up on May 29.”
She added that the President had directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies to prepare their handover notes and submit same to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, on or before April 20. She said it was Anyim’s responsibility to compile the notes which would form Jonathan’s handover document to Buhari. She added that while the valedictory FEC meeting would hold on May 20, everything that required the President’s approval must be presented to him latest on May 13 so that the incoming government would not accuse the outgoing government of rushing projects.
She said the present administration was doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition, adding that Vice-President Namadi Sambo is heading the government’s transition committee while Anyim is heading the inauguration committee. Akwashiki however said notwithstanding the transition programme, governance had not stopped in the country.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke and her Finance counterpart, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, were among the few ministers who did not attend the Wednesday FEC meeting. The meeting was the first to be held after the March 28 presidential election which Jonathan lost to Buhari.
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.