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Fault is not in our Constitution

By Owei Lakemfa

THE constitutional “crisis” in the county today is contrived.  The fault is not on our Constitution.  The Constitution envisaged that the President or the Vice President can fall sick and be unable to carry out the functions of their office.  To that extent, there is  nothing wrong with the Constitution.

What however it did not envisage is a President that will refuse to handover to the Vice President when for months he is too sick to discharge his functions; a President that will prefer to allow the country sink because he is sick.  A President that will prefer that the nation is rudderless rather than allow a temporary transfer of  power.

It is not certain that even after returning to the country the President would be in a position to govern.  What is however clear is that even if he returns to power, his would be a limping Presidency; a Presidency disabled not just by ill health but also by an avalanche of half truths and deception.

The Constitution assumed that men and women of integrity would be ministers and legislators.  It did not envisage a situation where ministers would refuse to carry out basic constitutional provisions, and on the basis of a non-existent medical report, declare the President healthy. It made no assumption that rather than be guided by the constitution, a sense of patriotism and basic decency, ministers will be guided by a sense of survivalism, and a false display of loyalty  to a very sick President.

The Constitution did not envisage a situation where almost all the distinguished senators and honourable members of the House of Representatives would seek to hide behind a finger of litigation and wave a dubious flag of not wanting to be contemptuous of the court as a pretext for abandoning the country to political un-certainty.

It did not envisage a National Assembly run by men like Ike Ekweremadu who as  Senate Deputy President ruled  that the Presi-dent can stay for over one year  abroad and rule the rest of us in Nigeria.

It is a display of un seriousness for the Senate to allow the same Ekweremadu  move a motion on the President’s absence. The National Assembly, save for deciding to pay the President a solidarity visit on his sick bed in Saudi Arabia, washed its hands off the matter like Pontius Pilate.  This raises the question whether we need the crowd in the National Assembly  if it cannot be relied upon in trying times.

The constitutional provisions for the Judiciary did not envisage a situation where a Chief Judge will drag it into the theatre of the absurd and turn his court into a comic opera.  It did not foresee a Judge in the mould of Justice Dan Abutu  delivering a dupliticious Judgement that injures the spirit of the Constitution, is illogical, unenforceable, unhelpful and useless.

Clearly, a cabal of hungry power hawkers and peddlers hold the nation to ransom.  It is tragic that this cabal and the political elites holding the country hos-tage cannot see that by their acts and deception, they endanger the whole democratic system.  If they refuse to allow the Constitution function, they invite Nigerians to unconstitutional acts.

But Nigeria is not an orphan.  Most of her children are not prodigals. Hence, some of them on January 12, 2010 organised the “Enough Is Enough” rally and protest march in Abuja.  If a man in his ’70s like Professor Wole Soyinka takes to the streets in defence of our common patrimony, we the younger generation have no business staying at home or at work.

When  elderly men like Solomon Asemota and Buba Galadima decide to publicly demonstrate the feelings of majority Nigerians, what excuse can the rest of  us have to stay away? When men of God like Tunde Bakare take prayers to the streets, what can other believers be doing praying in the closet?  That was why many of us joined them in the streets.  I agree with Pastor Bakare that: “The worst of us have been ruling over the best of us, and the best of us have taken the back seat.  The time has come for the best of us to take over”.

What is happening to us today will seem incredulous to future generations; that while leadership is crucial to any country, Nigeria for months was left  without a President.  Young Nigerians will ask tomorrow what we did when the President disappeared from the radar screen for such a long time, I want to be able to tell them that
I joined other patriots to change the situation.

As I walked down from the National Assembly after the rally,  I met a group wearing T-shirts proclaiming: “We support Yar’Adua”.  This was the rabble that the government could assemble to counter the patriots rally.  The positive thing about this group is that a few unemployed and hungry Nigerians would have had at least  a meal or two that day.

It came as no surprise that shortly afterwards, they fought publicly about their handlers short-changing them. This is a sad throw back to the inglorious General  Sani Abacha days when the regime hired crowds to justify its idiocy and murderous policies.

I do not know what the import of this cloned procession is, but I know that nowhere in history, including Benito Mussolini’s Italy has the lumpen proletariat -what we call Area Boys or Yan Dabas- led the process of national restitution or restoration.  I do not see the Yar’Adua government succeeding in this endeavour. It is not the Constitution that needs to be changed, it is the government.


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