Mr. Maku described those criticizing President Jonathan for abandoning the country to travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as ignorant. Mr. Jonathan left Nigeria two days ago to attend the United Nations’ Earth Summit, RIO+20. His departure came a day after two of Nigeria’s states, Kaduna and Yobe, were overwhelmed by violent sectarian strife precipitated by the bombing of several churches and reprisal attacks by Christians.
Mr. Maku, who spoke to journalists at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, said, in addition, that the Nigerian constitution also provides for the post of vice president. He noted that Vice President Namadi Sambo has since assumed the headship of the government during Mr. Jonathan’s absence.
Mr. Sambo added that Vice President Sambo called a meeting with security chiefs on Tuesday to examine the security situation in the country.
According to Mr. Maku, “The President can take decisions from anywhere in the world. His absence will not hamper his power to act. The Vice President effectively takes charge of affairs once the president is out of Nigeria and he is in touch with the President on hourly basis.” The Information Minister added, “There is no vacuum. The most important thing is that the president and the vice work harmoniously and are in constant touch. If the President panics, what will the people do? We must stop making politics out of the unfortunate incidence going on in Northern Nigeria.”
Mr. Maku condemned those “who think that because the President is out of the country he cannot make decision for the country. It is not true. Today, with advances in information technology, every President in this world, anywhere he is – even from the skies – can give directive to any Defense chief to act on any matter in the country.”
Said the minister, “We are living in a new world and I think people should understand this. We should not play politics with this. The President can convey a conversation with the Vice President, the Defense Chief even on the plane. They can do so from any part of the world with the advances in technology that we have reached.”
Mr. Jonathan’s trip to Brazil has been widely condemned by Nigerian political parties, political activists, church leaders and commentators on the Internet.