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THURSDAYRAPAROUND: Who Says Nigeria Is Not On Auto-pilot?

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By Michael Ayotunde

At a time the country is going through tough, critical challenges, Nigeria’s supposed leadership is busy globe tottering.

They are busy junketing around the world on frivolous ventures when citizens back home are daily on the streets queuing, hoping to buy non-existent fuel.

A statement by General Muhammed Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, on Tuesday morning, explained Buhari would proceed to London for routine medical checks that will last for a maximum of two weeks.

The President had since left the shore of the country, without transmitting power to his deputy.

Expectedly, the development generated controversies and outrages in several quarters, with many saying the president acted immorally and illegally by embarking on a foreign medical trip at a time fuel scarcity is biting harder, insecurity, ASUU vs FG issue is killing Nigeria educational sector.

While a good number of Nigerians defended the strict constitutional provision in respect of medical trips, holidays and vacations, the presidency has always come out to defend this apparent insensitivity and abuse of power to state that no law was breached as the president, who they said can rule from anywhere in the world, acted within the ambit of the law.

Over time, analysts have affirmed that the failure of the president to transmit power to the vice-president when embarking on medical vacation is unconstitutional, arbitrary, discriminatory, unconscionable and clear abuse of office.

By virtue of Section 145(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2011 as amended, the president is under a constitutional duty to always transmit power WHENEVER he embarks on medical vacation or any form of vacation whatsoever. Put simply, the constitution has made the transmission of power to the vice-president a condition precedent to embarking on medical vacations.

Section 145(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution unambiguously provides that:

“(1) WHENEVER the President is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, he SHALL transmit a written declaration to the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives to that effect, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice-President shall perform the functions of the President as Acting President.

“(2) In the event that the President is unable or fails to transmit the written declaration mentioned in subsection (1) of this section within 21 days, the National Assembly shall, by a resolution made by a simple majority of the vote of each House of the National Assembly, mandate the Vice-President to perform the functions of the office of the President as Acting President until the President transmits a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives that he is now available to resume his functions as President.”

Instructively, the provisions of this section are very clear, straightforward and have raised no ambiguity of any sort. Laying of bad precedent should be condemned by all right thinking Nigerians.

As if that was not enough, it was also reported that wives of state governors embarked on another jamboree to the United Arab Emirates to present birthday cake to the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari.

Meanwhile, the wife of Ekiti State Governor, Bisi Fayemi who is also the Chairlady of the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum, denied the allegation on her Twitter page, explaining that the governors’ wife did not travel to Dubai to present a cake to the president’s wife on her birthday. She said they were on an official visit to Dubai and the visit ‘luckily’ coincided with Aisha Buhari’s birthday so the governor’s wives decided to surprise her with a cake.

On whether her explanation is true or not, it is certain the truth will come out one day. The fact still remains that those in position of authority are living large and at the expense of the people they were meant to serve and protect.

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