The Federal Government on Wednesday changed its mind on the earlier plan for President Goodluck Jonathan to formally hand over power to the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, on May 28 as against the May 29 Democracy Day.
The Minister of Information, Patricia Akwashiki, had last week said that Jonathan intended to have the formal handing over done at a dinner on May 28, so that the administration could reserve May 29 for the incoming government.
That announcement generated controversy with some prominent lawyers arguing that the plan would create a vacuum in the leadership of the country as Buhari would be inaugurated 24 hours after the handing over ceremony.
But while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Jonathan on Wednesday, Akwashiki recanted.
The minister, who said the meeting again centered on the transition programme, denied ever telling reporters that the President would hand over to the President-elect on May 28.
She claimed that what she said was that the process of preparing handover notes would be completed by May 28.
She explained that Jonathan would not hand over power until May 29.
She said, “In the council today, the discussion was still centered on transition.
“I have to make a little clarification because some people thought I said May 28 will be the handover date. I never said that.
“I said May 28 will be the last day that we will have our handing over briefs by ministries and parastatals. I said from the 28th of this month to that date has been given to departments and ministries to submit their handover notes.
“I remember somebody asked if there would be no vacuum if there is handover on May 28 and I replied that there would be no handing over on May 28.
“Handing over and inauguration will hold on May 29. The President is not handing over power on May 28, he is handing over power on May 29.
“We have started the transition and it is ongoing. We are submitting our handover notes to the Office of the SGF.
“The President is still the President until May 29, when Gen. Buhari takes his oath of office and resumes as the President of the Federal Republic.”
When asked to disclose the reason behind the Tuesday sacking of Mr. Suleiman Abba as the Inspector-General of Police, Akwashiki said she had no explanation to make because the President had the right to appoint and fire his appointees.
“I think it is within the President’s power to appoint and sack and he did what he had to do,” she said.