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Needfulness Of Necessity Doctrine

THE National Assembly proved Tuesday it knew what to do, to resolve the political logjam that besieged the nation since last November 23, when the President went on indeterminate medical vacation.

It was needful, it was necessary, it was contingent that Nigeria could not plod on headlessly.
The National Assembly named Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan acting President in impressive unanimity to set off a controversy that would transverse common law and common sense.

Patriotism might not have been at the root of the decision, but it seems that clutching on the veneer of national interest, common good, sustenance of the integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was the garnishing the National Assembly required to pull off this uncommon constitutional stunt.

“My distinguished colleagues and bosses, shorn of legalese and technicalities, the intendment and spirit of the Constitution, as far as Section 145 is concerned, is that the legislature should have foolproof and irrefutable evidence that Mr. President is going on vacation, or is otherwise incapable, in the interim, of discharging the functions of his office,” Senate President David Bonaventure Achelenu Mark said in one of his most sobering speeches. Who are his bosses?

“A rigid and inflexible interpretation will not only stifle the spirit and intendment of the Constitution, but will also affront the doctrine of necessity.  The doctrine of necessity requires that we do what is necessary when faced with a situation that was not contemplated by the Constitution.

And that is precisely what we have done today.  In doing so, we have as well maintained the sanctity of our Constitution as the ultimate law of the land,” Mark said.

“We came to the conclusion that the President, through his declaration transmitted on the BBC, has furnished this parliament with irrefutable proof that he is on medical vacation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and has therefore complied with the provisions of Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution. I have re-emphasised this salient constitutional provision to dispel the obvious disinformation and distortion which both mischief and ignorance will inevitably spawn.

“The fact that we have resolved the logjam democratically is a measure of the depth that democracy has attained in our polity.  This is not the time for winners and losers, but the time to remain united as a people because as a nation, our voyage is on the same tide and we cannot afford a drift.”

What happened does not call for ululations. It is true that our nation was adrift. It is too optimistic to assume this interpretation of the Constitution, which can only stand since it is cloaked with the Doctrine of Necessity, would suffice to get all interests into acknowledging that we are really a nation whose interests should not be blinkered by the limited intentions of those who think of themselves.

One important thing from all these – it is easier to amend the Constitution than we had thought. With the Doctrine of Necessity, the National Assembly can do the needful, if it thinks any matter is of uttermost criticality to its survival, sorry, the sustenance of Nigeria.


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