Buhari’s extended vacation: How long is too long?
• Buhari Thanked Me For Holding Out Against Mischief-Makers – Adesina
For the opposition, the National Assembly must not allow the health of President Muhammadu Buhari to hold the nation to ransom, if indeed he is found to be incapable of discharging the functions of his office.
The opposition also decries the lack of transparency in the handling of information by presidential aides on true the state of their principal’s health, warning that the nation must not be taken back to the days when the health status of the late President Musa Yar’ Adua, was shrouded in secrecy.
Chairman of Conference of Political Parties in Nigeria (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa and Caretaker Committee Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi, agreed that the National Assembly should be ready to invoke relevant constitutional provisions to remove Buhari from office, if he found unable to continue.
Their positions were informed by the fact that the nation must not be held hostage economically, politically and socially, while the president attends to his health in London, with no definite return date since there is a limit to the powers of the acting president.
Musa and Makarfi who were incidentally governors of Kaduna State at different periods, want the Acting President, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives to save the polity from constitutional crisis that may play out in an attempt to shield Buhari’s actual health condition from the people.
Musa described the disposition of the president’s handlers as “disappointing and not really good because they know that they were not sincere to Nigerians on this matter. This is because when he left the country, they said he went on a mere vacation. But, when he couldn’t return after the vacation they said he was now on medical vacation. Now this is deceptive. They should have come out clearly on the matter. Now it is even worse as it is no longer medical vacation, but a matter of clear sickness since there is even no fixed time for his return to the country.”
For Makarfi: “It is good to have adequate information, but even if we have the information we are not doctors. What are we going to do with it? The constitution is the answer. The constitution, at all times should be respected. But, pending the time the section of the constitution would be invoked, I think what is required is the full and unhindered transfer of presidential powers to the acting president so that no vacuum is created. Because the problem in this kind of situation is that you have pockets of president’s men who may be undermining the acting president. I don’t know if that is going on, it may be going on or may not. But, if it is the case, it is not healthy.”
Mamman Mike Osuman, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said Section 144 speaks about “permanent incapacity” of the president. A mere incapacity will not lend itself to the invocation of Section 144 of the Constitution (as amended).
“In the case of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari, an attempt towards prompting his removal under the guise of Section 144 of our cherished constitution is a non se-quitur.”
Lagos Lawyer, Ebun Adegboruwa, is of the view that the president is only entitled to a 60-day annual leave, after which the National Assembly can invoke Section 144 of the constitution, if he fails not resume office.
According to him, “If by the end of February 2017, the president is unable, for reason of
ill-health, to resume his normal duties, then the Senate should proceed to invoke the provisions of Section 144 of the constitution to declare his seat vacant, so that the vice president will officially step into the position of president.”
Meanwhile, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, yesterday joined those who claimed to have spoken to the Buhari on phone.
In his Twitter handle, @FemAdesina, he said: “Spoke with PMB a short while ago. Glad to hear his voice. Told me he was resting, but no cause for worry. Said I should greet my family.”
In another tweet, Adesina said the president thanked him for holding out against mischief-makers. “Thanks for holding out against mischief-makers,” PMB told me during a phone call today. Said he would call again soon. Gave him best wishes.”