AS permutations on the politics of running Nigeria while the President ails continue, two presidential aides are steadily creating a version of the Constitution to suit their wearing explanations on the Presidentâ€™s heath.
Chief Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN. He should know enough law to recognise the import of the Constitution he swore to uphold. His utterances on all matters, especially legal, are crucial because his is the only ministerial portfolio named specifically in the Constitution.
Aondoakaa said only the President could decide if he was too sick to continue in office. This was an obviously belaboured attempt at vitiating the provisions of Section 144 of the Constitution, which expects that Aondoakaa and his cabinet colleagues could by two-third resolution declare the President incapable of discharging his duties.
Where such a resolution is made, a medical panel the Senate President would set up should investigate the resolution. Nigerians do not expect the cabinet the President appointed would have the guts to carry out this exercise.
This, however, is not a reason for Aondoakaa to take it upon himself to insult Nigerians who wish the President quick recovery and expects him back at work.
Section 145 of the Constitution asks the President to write to the leadership of the National Assembly when he is on vacation or unable to discharge his duties. The same letter would announce the Vice-President the Acting President, until the President returns.
There are no ambiguities with these provisions except that some power mongers have seen an opportunity to be President of Nigeria without responsibility to anyone. They are not short of explanations for a simmering constitutional breach.
It is trite law that without the provisions of Section 145 accordingly effected; presidential actions the Vice-President can take are limited. He cannot sign bills into law, for example.
Nigeria is on hold. Aondoakaa and company can tell themselves whatever they like. It is important, however, that they curtail the insulting and pompous manner they discuss an issue that suspends the present and future of Nigeria.
Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji, the Presidentâ€™s Special Adviser on National Assembly Matter is another fellow taking the matter to ridiculous extents. According to him, the Presidentâ€™s doctors would determine when he returns to work. He told Nigerians the President as Governor in Katsina State was away for six months on medical grounds, yet he returned for a second term. The President, Abba-Aji forecast, would be in office until 2015.
There are no bases for comparing Katsina State with Nigeria, but all these prove the insensitivity of the Presidentâ€™s men in their frenetic quest to keep their jobs, Nigeria in abeyance.
Our Constitution does not provide for foreign doctors to determine the suitability of our President to return to work. Section 144 (4) states that a medical panel to verify the Presidentâ€™s health has to comprise â€œfive medical practitioners in Nigeria.â€