It’s an impeachable offence – Adegboruwa There is cause for concern – Fani-Kayode Yes, it’s unnecessary controversy — Agbakoba No need for distractions, says Junaid Mohammed Tsav, Osuntokun, Odumakin, Yerima, others speak out.
The Federal Government has described the hoopla generated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly, in which he said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will coordinate the activities of the government in his absence, as a needless distraction.
President Buhari, who left Abuja for London on Sunday night to attend to his health, wrote the National Assembly, in compliance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) informing it of his trip and also announcing Osinbajo as the man in charge of the nation’s affairs.
However, a section of the letter, which read:’’ While I am away, the Vice President will co-ordinate the activities of the government,’’ provoked huge debates in the polity. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, said the controversy was unnecessary. According to him, what was valid is compliance with the relevant section of the law which he said was fulfilled. “It is a needless controversy.
It is just a distraction. The operating sentence is ‘in compliance with Section 145(1),’ any other word used is not relevant,” he said. As would be expected, Lai Mohammed’s comments elicited more comments, yesterday. While some agreed with him, others kicked. Those who agreed that the furore was unnecessary include human rights lawyer, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed; former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav; and Chief Akin Osuntokun, former Political Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. However, the likes of Lagos lawyer, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara; National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin; and President of the Arewa Consultative Youth Forum, AYCF, Malam Shettima Usman Yerima disagreed. Controversy unnecessary – Agbakoba In a six sentence reaction on the issue, Dr Agbakoba said: “I am concerned by the unnecessary controversy raised over the use of these words‘ While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government’ in the medical vacation letter transmitted by the President to the National Assembly. I believe it is a distraction by politicians. The nomenclature used by the President to describe his Vice President does not matter. What matters to the average, long-suffering Nigerian is good governance. Will the Acting President create jobs; provide water, roads, electricity, food, etc? This is what is important.” It’s an impeachable offence – Adegboruwa However, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa disagreed, saying the “‘President appointing the VP as coordinator is an impeachable offence.” He said the move is a constitutional crisis, since the National Assembly cannot pronounce Osinbajo as Acting President without the President’s letter and a resolution of the two chambers of the legislature. His words: “A coordinator is a person of equal status with others. So the VP cannot make appointments or sack anybody while the President is away. He cannot discipline any erring minister; he is limited in policy decisions, as a co-ordinator. He has no power of control over the cabal to whom the President has handed over power, albeit illegally. “The chief of staff was recently reported to have moved vital documents away from Aso Villa In effect, Nigeria has no leader at present. The existing office of VP is no more. The constitutionally-created office of Acting President has been circumscribed by the President. The President is away on an indefinite medical trip abroad. “The Senate lacks the power to pronounce Osinbajo as Acting President, without a written resolution of both chambers of the National Assembly, through a decision taken on the Floor of both chambers. The President cannot travel for medical check up for an indefinite period of time. “The National Assembly should reject the letter from the President. There is, therefore, a serious constitutional crisis. “Pro-government lawyers and activists, who have goaded the Buhari administration into dubious and reckless interpretations of the Constitution in the past, should be held responsible for the current crisis and all acts of impunity from Aso Villa. “In all, the National Assembly should commence impeachment proceedings against the President for gross misconduct.” There is cause for concern – Fani-Kayode On his part, Fani-Kayode said: “Trust me when I tell you that the presidency doesn’t give a damn about constitutional provisions, the rules or the niceties. The only thing that is relevant is the interpretation that the service chiefs and the military place on the “National Coordinator” letter that was sent to the Senate. They will act on that interpretation if…and they are urged to do so by the presidency. That is the game plan. “It is not by accident that every single security agency in Nigeria today is headed by a northern Muslim except for the Navy. And now for the first time since 1999, a northern Muslim has been appointed GOC of the all powerful and critical 1 Division which covers the North-West. Another has just been appointed to head the 81st Division, Lagos, and the 9th Mechanized Brigade, Ikeja. “Finally, all of Osinbajo’s security team have been changed except for his ADC. Most of the Yoruba have been withdrawn and he is now being guarded by only northerners. He would have lost his ADC too but he objected strongly to that one and they left him. The man needs our support and prayers. ‘’Every Yoruba man and southerner, regardless of party affiliation, owes him and the south that much. There is one more thing that I know which will shock Nigerians but I will not say it now. It is unbelievable and shocking and when you hear it you will all appreciate the sheer humiliation that Osinbajo has been put through” President’s office deregulated — Afenifere Faulting the content of the letter, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said the letter showed a deregulation of the Office of the President. Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin said: “If (on) this occasion the President has written to the Senate to say that while away, the Vice President will perform the functions of his office and he now says that the Vice President will coordinate the activities of government, what the letter is saying is that they have deregulated the office of the President. It means that everybody will be doing his own thing, Osinbajo will do what is brought to his table, the Chief of Staff will do what is brought to his table. That is not healthy for our democracy, it is dangerous, it is a bad signal and the constitution is very clear, that infraction is atrocious. I think there is is a kind of a hegemonous threat on the acting presidency of Osinbajo by that infraction.” Constitution clear on the matter – Tsav Alhaji Abubakar Tsav said: “The constitution is clear on it. It says that the Vice President can act as the President whenever the President is not around. He can perform the function either as Vice President or President. “ People should not cause needless distraction – Mohammed Dr. Junaid Mohammed said since President Buhari passed a letter to the National Assembly concerning his medical vacation, Nigerians should not cause any further distraction. His words: “Due to the circumstances we found ourselves as a nation, prudence demands we should be careful because there are various cabals trying to manipulate the present situation we found ourselves. The Constitution of Nigeria did not mention coordinator of government business anywhere, it is un-ambigous. What the Constitution says is for the President to transmit a letter to the National Assembly in order to transmit power to the Vice President and he did that before he left. “Though I have little or no respect for the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed but I think Nigerians should respect his views this time around. The issue on ground calls for caution so it will not cause mayhem in the polity because some people are out for mischief over the status of President Buhari’s health. Since the President has transmitted a letter to the National Assembly empowering Vice President Obasanjo to act while he is away, I think Nigerians should desist from causing distraction.” APC government is distracting Nigerians —Opara Austin Opara said it is President Buhari’s administration that is causing distraction for Nigerians, having used terminologies not recognized by the Constitution. “The position of the constitution is clear on this matter. When the President travels, he transmits power to his Vice-President as acting President and not as a coordinator. Coordinator is an aberration and such words are not recognized in the Nigerian Constitution. “What will this government lose by using the words ‘Acting President’ for Osinbajo? Under President Goodluck Jonathan, we had positions like Coordinating Minister, so are we going to have a Coordinating President as well? The APC should stop distracting Nigerians with their use of words that are not provided for in the Constitution,” he said. The letter is mischievous—Yerima To Yerima Usman Shettima, the originator of the letter is mischievous because “the situation as it is may lead to a constitutional crisis. The letter written did not state Osinbajo should act as president. Whoever wrote that letter did it deliberately to achieve a selfish interest. Those who wrote it did it out of mischief to limit the power of the acting president. The government should not tell us that this is a mere distraction because it concerns all Nigerians.” It’s a needless distraction but… – Osuntokun On his part, Osuntokun said: “I agree that it is a needless distraction but it is a distraction that was initiated and fostered by the President’s letter. It is disingenuous for those who created a problem to now adopt a magisterial posture and presume to dispense admonition. I just hope this is not an indication of how they intend to handle the president’s absence this time around.” FEC meeting: Osinbajo reverts commencement time to 10am Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, reverted the time for the meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, to10am from 11am. The usual time was10am but was changed to11 am by President Muhammadu Buhari after his return from London on medical vacation since March 10, 2019. But having gone back to London for a medical follow-up on Sunday night, his Vice who is currently operating on an acting capacity reverted to10am. Osinbajo presided o over the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.