By STELLA UKWUOMA
After several denials that Nigeria’s President’s three consecutive absence from the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting and two consecutive absence at Juma’at prayers had anything to do with the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, the news of his return to London, United Kingdom for further medical checks broke on Sunday.
In the same breath, the nation was informed that Mr. President’s trip had been delayed due to the expectation of the Chibok girls return.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina announced that the duration of Mr. President’s medical trip will be determined by his UK doctors.
Before departing the country late Sunday evening, Buhari confirmed Adesina’s report, adding that he had communicated to the legislature his desire to meet his doctors in the UK for medical reasons.
According to him, Vice President Osinbajo would act while his stay in hospital lasted.
On Tuesday, The President’s letter was read on the floor of the Senate by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki.
The said letter, however, generated controversy in the upper legislative chamber.
The Senator representing Abia North at the National Assembly, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa while reacting to a portion of the letter, which read: “while I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government” raised a point of order.
He argued that “coordinator” as used by the President in his letter was alien to Section 145 (1) of the constitution as cited by the President.
Ohuabunwa noted that this was not the first time; the President would be writing such a letter to the lawmakers, hence the ‘ambiguity’ in the said letter was inexcusable.
Going further, he pointed out that the said section of the constitution recognises an Acting President in the absence of the President and not a “Coordinator” as used.
His observations were sharply countered by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan who relied on the opening paragraph of the President’s letter which read in part: “In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform the distinguished Senate …”.
The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines “coordinator” as: someone whose job is to make different groups work together in an organized way to achieve something”. Other dictionaries portray similar understanding.
Section 5 (1) of the 1999 Constitution gives executive powers to the president. By acknowledging the Vice President as a coordinator, who needs to consult and get approval from others in his absence, he precludes Prof. Osinbajo from exercising his full constitutional power. The question that begs for answer is why?
Other than Osinbajo, who are the other people he is supposed to be coordinating?
Before Buhari embarked on his earlier medical vacation abroad, he informed his service chiefs (orally) of the authority of the Vice President to act in his stead, urging them to give him the necessary cooperation.
Could it be that the praises Nigerians showered on Prof. Osinbajo in his acting capacity elicited some bad blood within some quarters?
Like the Bible, are we seeing in our days the episode of King Saul and David play out before our eyes?
Has the songs of the women ascribing thousands to little “David” and hundreds to “King Saul” provoked negative feelings even though David’s victory was for all, especially the King who was the symbol of the nation?
Perhaps, President Buhari meant no harm. Maybe, the speechwriter decided to be creative and the President accented to it good faith.
The question then is: why did it occur to the speechwriter to be controversially creative? What could be the motive behind his/her dangerous creativity when the Constitution is clear on the terminology to be used?
Could he/she have played out somebody or a group’s script? Who is afraid of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as Acting President?