Jonathan Absent at Council of State Meeting


By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

Former President Goodluck Jonathan is conspicuously absent at the ongoing third Council of State meeting called by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Aside Jonathan, former President Shehu Shagari, Chief Ernest Shonekan and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida were also absent.

While Shagari and Shonekan were apparently absent as a result of old age, the former military president has been indisposed for quite a period.

However, former Heads of State, Gen.Yakubu Gowon, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and former President Olusegun Obasanjo were in attendance.

Also in attendance were former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Mohammed Uwais, Idris Kutigi, Alfa Belgore and Aloma Muktar.

The meeting, expected to focus on the current state of the nation and the forthcoming 2019 elections, received briefings from officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A minute silence was observed in honour of the late former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Mustapha.

In attendance besides the former heads of state were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, governors of Sokoto, Delta, Adamawa, Imo, Benue, Lagos, Nasarawa, Abia, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kebbi, Plateau, Kano, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Zamfara, Osun, Ogun, Niger and Ebonyi States.

Others were deputy governors of Bayelsa and Enugu States.

The meeting is the third to be called by Buhari. The first was held in October 21, 2015, while the second took place in September 2016.

The Council of State is an organ of the federal government saddled with the responsibility of advising the executive on policy making.

Its duties include: advising the president in the exercise of his powers with respect to the national population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same; prerogative of mercy; award of national honours; the INEC (including the appointment of members of the Commission); the National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex-officio members of that Council); the National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of the Commission).

The council also advises the president upon requests on issues bordering on maintenance of public order, among others.