BEFORE his trip to London, United Kingdom, UK, on Sunday, May 7, for another round of medical checkup reports of the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari had occupied the front burner in the media, as well as in   official circles. Some of his  party’s most influential leaders, including     Bisi Akande and Ahmed  Bola Tinubu,former governors of Osun and Lagos states respectively   had cause to go public to express apprehension over the Nigerian leader’s health , while at the same time trying  to put up  some public relations show  over the  health position of  the  President. His wife, Aisha, was not left out. The outspoken wife of the president, while admitting that her husband had health challenges, equally added that the case was not as serious as the public was    made to believe. According to Aisha,  her husband’s health was “not as bad as it’s being perceived. “ But the reality of the Nigerian leader’s health status came to fore penultimate Sunday, when his spokesman, Femi Adesina announced that his principal  was jetting out of the country  for a medical checkup up, leaving Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to lead the country. He said the leader would have left much earlier, but had to tarry for some hours to receive 82 Chibok girls released from Boko Haram terrorists’ captivity.Adesina added that: “The length of the President’s stay in London will be determined by the doctors. The government will continue to function normally under the able leadership of the Vice President.” Of course the previous  Sunday’s trip to London will be the second time  , within the new year, that President Buhari  would  have to leave the country to attend to his health, and the fourth since he assumed office almost two years ago. He had left Nigeria on January 19 for London to “undergo routine medical check-ups” during a short holiday but  he  only returned, however,  on March 10 after an extended period of treatment. President Buhari had hinted, on his return to the country,  in March , the possibility of him going back for another round of  treatment , acknowledging  that he was seriously  sick. While many Nigerians have been praying for the president’s recovery, the manner he left this time around, especially on the transmission of power to his deputy   left much to be desired. Many concerned Nigerians have spoken against it. Unlike in January, when he transmitted power in a clear and  unambiguous letter on  the acting position and roles  of Yemi Osibanjo, the recent  document  appeared to undermine the roles of the Vice President,  and by extension the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  The wordings of the letter, which was the official communication to the Senate informing the Senators of his medical leave to the United Kingdom, were faulted by the Senators as being defective. But the timely intervention of the Senate Leader Ahmed Lawal,,and of course theadministrative acumen exhibited by  the Senate President,Olusola Saraki,   who advised his colleagues to ignore the wordings which described the new role of Vice President  Osinbajo as that of the Coordinating Vice President ,and rather rely on provisions of section 145 of 1999 Constitution ,as amended, which accords him the statutory position of an Acting President saved the day and the entire nation, the huge embarrassment and possible  constitutional crisis which the letter would have engendered. The Senate faulted some parts of the letter by the President, saying that in line with the Constitution, Osinbajo cannot be described as “Coordinating Vice President”, but Acting President when the President is away or absent. The Senate deserves to be commended for its   wisdom, patriotism, and maneuvering which interplayed to avert   what would have been a constitutional crisis at the Chamber, and of course in the entire country, following the reading of the letter from President  Buhari by Senate President , on the medical attentionbeing sought  abroad by the President. President Buhari had said in his letter: “While I am away the  Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept the distinguished Senate President the assurances of my highest consideration.” Shortly after Senate President Saraki read the letter, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, PDP, Abia North, raised a point of order objecting to some sections of the letter which he described as vague and ambiguous against the backdrop that the letter did not indicate properly the person to be in charge of the country in his absence. According to Senator Ohuabunwa, there was no provisions in Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution ( as Amended) that says coordinating authority in the President’s absence, adding that the President in his letter would have been very clear in explaining the roles of who should take over by saying that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo should be in acting capacity and not the use of the word, coordinate. He argued,” Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise that he is unable to discharge the functions of his office until he transmits to them the written declaration to the contrary, such function shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.” According to the Senator, the said letter does not convey anything because coordinating has no space on any place in our constitution and  should therefore be sent back. Sequel to the controversy generated by Buhari’s letter, the federal government  dismissed the controversy over  the issue via the  Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who   described the reaction as a needless distraction. No matter the labour  by Mohammed and the government’s spokesmen,  to  justify  the President’s action, his letter has  cast huge doubt on the  sincerity of our leader. I wonder why President Buhari , and his advisers, deviated from similar wordings of his earlier letters which empowered his Vice without ambiguity. His action, or inaction, dangerously conveyed impression of a crack in his administration. It appears some hawks in his government are not comfortable with Osinbajo, and unfortunately there is nothing they can do because the position and functions of the Vice President are clear in our constitutional. Those who wrote the letter, or advised President Buhari on it are not only mischievous, selfish and retrogressive but are enemies of the country as well as by extension Buhari’s   adversaries. They are by their action trying to erode his credibility and some goodwill he has enjoyed over the years as a man of honour and integrity locally and globally. President Buhari should watch it. Those so-called members of his kitchen cabinet who are not comfortable with some sterling showings of Osinbajo should have nothing to fear. The President, and his party APC, will take  credit for whatever performance Osinbajo might display in his absence . His election with his Vice was on a joint ticket, and they need to work as a team to take Nigeria to a higher pedestal. For goodness sake, Nigerians cannot afford a repeat, or something close to late President Musa Yar’ adua’s failure to transmit power to his Vice,  Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2010 . The rest is history. Suffice it to say that this country is not prepared for another harrowing experience on issues that concern respecting the country’s constitution. The action of the President and his men was not only ill-motivated, but it was ill-advised. and naively executed.


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