THE President’s Media Office recently circulated a press statement that President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Minister for Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, directed Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to sign the 2017 Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly. That statement was followed up with stories claiming that the President had been rejecting files and other working documents ferried by ministers and other senior government officials to him in London. According to the report, President Buhari has been redirecting such officials to the Acting President on the premise that he had temporarily surrendered power to his deputy. These revelations indicate activity by people in the corridors of power to divide the Presidency and put the President and his Deputy, now the Acting President, at odds.
President Buhari had complied with the Constitution at the point of his departure for his latest medical treatment on May 7 2017, when he transmitted letters to that effect to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Section 145 (1) which governs the procedure when a president goes on vacation states thus: 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.
In view of this, we are dismayed by attempts to insinuate that Buhari who triggered that constitutional clause would, at the same time, seek to interfere with the work of his Deputy whom he had on several occasions praised for his diligence and loyalty. We strongly believe that the working relationship between the President and the Acting President is cordial enough for them to consult discreetly without the need to route a directive to the Acting President through a minister. We are, however, not oblivious of the schemes of interlopers and power merchants who seek to exploit opportunities and lacunas to project personal interests at the expense of the collective well-being.
Acting President Osinbajo should be allowed to provide leadership while the President recuperates. The Constitution fully backs him to lead until the President transmits another letter informing the Nationals Assembly of his return to his duty post. At a time like this, the President needs to be protected from incendiary political plots that might worsen his situation. The Presidency does not belong to any individual or group. It is a national institution governed by the constitution which is the supreme law. We must abide by it.