President Yar’Adua Should Not Resign; But Obey The Constitution Instead
FRIDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2009 13:18 EDIT2
By Paul I. Adujie
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the peoples’ servant, the president who listens and Mr. Rule of Law Ko? What happened? What changed?
What exactly is at stake in the face of President Yar’Adua’ frequent hospitalizations and absence from the presidency? It rather simple.
The issue is President Yar’Adua violation or willful and complete disregard for section 145 of the constitution of Nigeria. The issue is not about his fragile state of health or about the unconstitutional and unbridled power of first ladies. The issue is whether we are a nation of laws, a nation of constitutional democracy or a nation of brigandage of cabals, pirates and criminal gangs!
Nigeria must avert these obvious speed into serious crisis. Averting catastrophes and cataclysms makes eminent sense. Avoiding looming anarchy from unnecessary constitutional crisis in Nigeria simply require that Nigerians scrupulously follow the constitution of Nigeria. In this particular instance, adherence to section 145 of the constitution of Nigeria 1999 strongly advocated. And this merely requires that some Nigerian current political leaders with huge egos, curb their arrogance and overbearing ways.
Nigerians at home and abroad have been left waiting and holding bated breathe for over two weeks now, all due to the precarious state of health of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, president and commander-in-chief of our beloved country.
Nigerians, including myself, feel empathy toward the president over his health condition. First, because is a fellow human being and second, because he is one of us and thirdly, because he represent our nation as a national symbol for Nigeria, during the proper tenure of his presidency. We recognize that our president did not wish ill health upon himself and it is not something he purchased from some supermarket or stoke. It is just happenstance and luck of the draw, it happens to the best of us. Life is such.
This is also an appropriate commentary on the human condition in Nigeria. How be it, that there is no hospital in any of the six geopolitical zones with sufficient medicines and adequate equipment of current medical science and technology to enable health care givers perform their function for President Yar’Adua and every Nigerian citizen Adamu, Bola and Chima, whether in Anambra, Bauchi or Oyo states. It is an open secret that Nigerian doctors and nurses excel everywhere in the world, but, in Nigeria, the medical professionals lack electricity and equipment and that is all.
I wish the president well in his pursuit of treatment and recovery overseas, even as I recognize and I am saddened by the fact that millions of Nigerians cannot go abroad for death inducing ailments. I sincerely wish our president best of health, nonetheless.
But, niceties and politesse flees and depart from me quite rapidly, as I consider the egregiously unconstitutional behavior of President Yar’Adua, and his advisers,. Particularly, the chief law officer of the federation, who ought to be our first in line, as a national constitutional watchdog and defender of our constitution. Chief Michael Aondoaakaa has failed the nation miserably as Attorney General and Minister for Justice. I have actually had an occasion in the past to append a fitting label onto him, as Nigeria’s Public Enemy Number One, as he seem to observe Nigerian laws in the breach. Hugging looters and rigging courts processes in their favor, both in Nigeria and in London.
But President YarAdua is not blameless. He knows our constitution, after all, he was chief executive of Katsina state for 8 years, before become president of our federation. And even before that, he was a college professor and he read and understands the constitution. He has a bevy of legal advisers, despite the willfully ignorant Attorney General and Minister for Justice who seem to excel in subverting the constitution and laws of Nigeria.
The issue here is not whether the president is sick, the world obviously know that by now! The issue for me is not about the dichotomies of North or South or Christian or Muslim, region or state, the issue at stake and propelling of all these, is arrogance of persons who are being simply uncouth. Section 145 of the constitution of Nigeria provides, in letter and spirit, that the president shall inform leaders of the national assembly in writing of his absence from the presidency, and absence from the management of the affairs of the Nigerian nation. President Yar’Adua haven’t practiced this constitutional requirement!
Only Sunday, I read in the front page of one of Nigerian newspapers, that the military president of Guinea was shot and injured, and he chose to seek medical treatment in Morocco, and he duly handed over or delegated presidential authority, to his deputy! What an irony is that? Guinea should be learning from Nigeria.
Guinea is small, and relatively poor compared with Nigeria, and above all these, Guinea’s current leaders are not even pretending to be democrats or to have faith in constitutionality. The military guys, president and deputy, never laid claims to the practice of democracy and constitutionalism, and yet, power transfer and devolution was without incident, it was rather seamless, even after an assassination attempt on the president, quite unlike the Nigerian circumstances where no gun shots were involved
And so, in the case of Nigeria, President Yar’Adua or any president of Nigeria at any given time, could be in excellent or perfect health, when he is away from the presidency, on vacation, or drunk or whatever the reason for being indisposed or otherwise absent or unavailable to properly discharge his constitutional presidential duties, he or she, should follow the stipulation of the constitution of Nigeria which prescribes the manner of power succession and devolution in hierarchical order. President Yar’Adua for his reasons or no reason at all, have so far refused to follow these constitutional order.
The People Democratic Party members are surely blinded by their self interests and their power retention paranoia. Their interests are in direct conflict with the interests of Nigerians and Nigeria. The PDP is of necessity, defending its “turf” and to that extent, I agree with Mr. Tunji Braithwaite that a few in the ruling party or cabal, are selfish and acting completely and totally at variant with the best interests of our nation at this time. PDP has become a colossus incapable of managing itself, let alone, our complex nation
After carefully considering all the present circumstances however, I certainly do not believe that President Yar’Adua should resign, until and unless, he is determined to be permanently indisposed, incapacitated and otherwise unable to function effectively efficiently, as Nigeria’s chief executive. Such decision should be his alone, and perhaps, given his advertised impaired health conditions, in due consultation with his personal physicians.
As a matter of fact, there are historical precedents in all of these. There have been presidents and prime ministers in the world, in the past, and outside Nigeria, with imperfect health, President Roosevelt pursued the so-called New Deal, even though he was afflicted and literally crippled and wheelchair bound with Polio. And not too long ago, about a couple of years ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel became comatose and he remains that way, but, there was no upheaval in America and Israel during these aforementioned times. The issue is that Nigeria should not have a power vacuum or the absence and lack of legitimate constitutional presidential authority in Nigeria, while the president is away in sickness or in perfect health. The affairs of the Nigerian nation should not be held to ransom or allowed to grind to a halt for so long. We do not want a military or civilian coup. We need our work in progress democracy to lurch forward and move Nigeria into a more perfect united nation where no one is marginalized. We want constitutionalism.
However, it must be mentioned that those now demanding the resignation of President Yar’Adua, with all due respect, are themselves beclouded by some subjectivity. I am not persuaded that they could not find and win over some PDP members to co-sign the resignation petition drive with the 53 who appear to be interested in a power grab of their own choosing. After all, a cursory look at the names on the resignation petition portray the signers as anything but members of the CNPP, the current opposition coalition parties.
One cannot be certain that these CNPP crowd are making their demands with clean hand, forthrightly, impartially, objectively and without prejudice.
The CNPP are such collective of opposition party persons, who are in my estimation, not vigorous or vibrant as they should have been all these times. They are therefore in my view, mere political opportunists and political orphans, seeking circuitous way to the presidency. It is no secret that CNPP of which the form the fulcrum, have been seething and waiting in desperation. Or that they harbor bruises and even animosity and hostility from the shenanigans of the last general election. These same CNPP folks are now claiming that they are acting in the name of the Nigerian electorate and people
CNPP should not be allowed to reargue and essentially re-litigate their forgone election petitions losses through the backdoor of presidential infirmity of President Yar’Adua, as a convenient excuse. Therefore, President Yar’Adua and Vice President Jonathan remain the de jure and de facto political leaders of Nigeria respectively.
But why is President Yar’Adua and his cohorts and acolytes and platoon of enablers clearly flirting with an obvious calamity and catastrophe? Is it that some Nigerians want to hurry Nigeria along and toward the precipice of predicted anarchy and disintegration as forecasted and told Nigerians by non-Nigerians the umpteenth time?
Or why would we not heed those, like General Theophilous Danjuma, who recently repeated his old advice, that Nigeria cannot afford nor, would Nigeria survive another civil war? Is that not glaringly clear to all, by now?
Does Nigeria want to follow the wonderful paths of Afghanistan, Somalia etc? I presume that ours would be worse because of our size and numbers! The extent of human hardship and suffering of Nigerians will be higher in magnitude and higher in proportions.
We must not allow some selfish Nigerians use their political manipulations and power intrigues to speed Nigeria to war and disintegration?
The current political climate in Nigeria is everything, but, it is certainly not only President Yar[Adua physical health. This is not about the president ill health at all, it is about his unwillingness to obey the laws of the land and to respect section 145 of the constitution of Nigeria 1999. The current constitution, until it is amended or repealed completely, remains the supreme law of the land. President Yar’Adua and vice President Jonathan arrived at Nigeria’s political stage through an imperfect albeit, a flawed process. Nigeria’s current constitution, is also arguably imperfect. But we will have to make delicately manage these double-binds and extricate ourselves from these rather delicate situations without violent frictions.
In the preceding ten days or approximately two weeks, there have been a toxic mix of incendiaries and combustible speculations about power devolution, of the north and south axis type. There have been a plethora of rumors and countervailing rumors of power grab and power grab resistance strategies. There have been announced plans of usurpation and counter announced or articulated plans to fight to the death! What manner of citizens are these?
Some Nigerians want to play a zero sum game. Some Nigerians want to throw the baby and the dirty bathwater, and these could portend cataclysms and serve as harbinger to greater evils or even violence.
All those who wish for a peace and security, justice, progress and development, advancement and greatness for our nation, must refrain from making public pronouncements and posturing to inflame.
Those Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, who wish Nigeria well should ensure that these delicate moment is managed effectively to protect and preserve Nigeria as one, indivisible and united nation.
1. President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has been absent from presidential duties for about 20 days hence. This means that in 10 additional days, he would have been away from the presidency for one whole month
2. No one should blame President Yar'Adua for having the misfortune of imperfect health. However, his unwillingness to adhere to the constitution of Nigeria, has left many tongues wagging in Nigeria and worldwide.
3. For all I care, President YarAdua could have been in perfect health and be on vacation at Obudu Cattle Ranch or near Oguta Lake or near Yankari Game Reserve or somewhere in the sinful city of Las Vegas... the right thing to do in all case of presidential absence, is to follow the constitutionally stipulated power succession or devolution and our president, in his infinite wisdom, chose otherwise and as such, violative of or in noncompliance with our constitution
4. In this omission and or commission, President YarAdua has left a simmering discontent and schism and chasm, which might lead to a constitutional and even political crisis with dire consequences for Nigerians and Nigeria
5. I take the view therefore, that the federal government of Nigeria certainly have bigger fish to fry, instead of the shadow boxing, which is my assessment of this hot-pursuits of Mallam Ribadu and Mallam Rufai.
6. I am of course aware that a separate branch of the Nigerian government system, the judiciary that is, and a duly constituted trial headed by Justice Constance Momoh, have been examining allegations against these individuals. And so, it can be said, that these eventual warrants are part of a judicial due process which separate and apart, from the shenanigans of he executive branch.
7. But in view of the obvious or quite apparent looming constitutional and political crises,... which is encrusted in the vacuum created by President YarAdua's continued absence from his presidential duties, outsiders will be forgiven for asking, what exactly is the priority here... in magnitudes? The yet to be resolved allegations/accusations against Ribadu/Rufai or the dangling sword of Damocles imbued in presidential unconstitutionality?