It is exactly 55Â days President Umaru Yar’Adua was flown abroad for medical treatment. Yet, silence is the norm on the true position ofÂ the President’s health.Â Rather, rumours of his illness and death areÂ heating up the system, leading to demand for empowerment ofÂ the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President, mass rallies, court judgements, rows in the Senate, a Yar’Adua voice on BBCÂ among others. Â
The BBC voice came afterÂ the media reported that the president was clinically dead , brain-damaged and on a life support machine.
It is clear that the Yar’Adua illness is being politicised and Nigerians are at a loss as to the way out of theÂ quagmire. Would the entire nation be left at the mercy of one man?
As ifÂ to answer the question, a Federal High court in Abuja adopted a mid-course approach to resolving the problem by making a pronouncement based on section 5(1) and 148(1) of the 1999 constitution that the VP Jonathan can perform Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s duties. That judgement wasÂ like tackling the matter from a periphery.
Saturday Vanguard went to town to sample the opinions of ethnic leaders, politicians and lawyers as to the provisions of the constitutionÂ under the circumstances and their views are as diverse as the issues being raised.
We canâ€™t empower Jonathan â€” Shehu
A three- time member of the House of Representatives, Abubakar Garba Shehu in an encounter with Saturday Vanguard says the National Assembly cannotÂ compel the PresidentÂ toÂ resign or the VP to act on behalf of the president :
The National Assembly cannot compel anybody to resign or to act on behalf of another. Section 144-145 of the constitutionÂ has not givenÂ the National Assembly theÂ power to ask the VP to take over. The person to do that is Federal ExecutiveÂ Council, FEC . The Constitution is very clear. I have been in the House of Reps for eleven years.
There is no provision that empowered the National Assembly to ask the President to resign or the VP to take over the powers of the President.
TheÂ FECÂ members are not elected but the constitutionÂ has given them that power. The only power the N.A hasÂ isÂ that of impeachment and that isÂ when theÂ president hasÂ committed an impeach able offence andÂ Yarâ€™AduaÂ has not done that.
We cannot do anything about his ill-health. Nigerians should go and read the 1999 constitution, section 144-145.
The President is recovering and will soonÂ be back. Though he is the president, he can fall sick and he can die. So, Yarâ€™AduaÂ remains the president.
There have beenÂ presidents who were sick and they recovered. We should pray for his recovery so that he could continue where he stopped before the sickness,Â like following up on Amnesty and his 7- point agenda. We should not be negative about this whole thing as we are being.
Nigeria is hanging on theÂ precipice – Agoro
By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Dr. Olapade Agoro (Aladura Patriarch) is theÂ National Chairman/former Presidential Candidate ofÂ the National Action Council (NAC) He is also the National ChairmanÂ of Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and he says:
Sickness until pronounced madness remains within curable diseases under the management control expectation of general practitioners.
A sickness that starts with self delusion, wide laughter to oneself without reasonable cause, loose, careless and meaningless talking and probably with walk- jumping if not carefully, quickly and properly diagnosed may after allÂ end up in madness.
Madness it must be mentioned starts from the head and not the mind.
The carelessness of Nigerians beginning its current democratic dispensation which hurriedly started in 1999 with a gang up of political opportunists with mad heads isÂ proving fatal.
In the over ten years of PDP mis-governance,Â evidences ofÂ socio-economic and politicalÂ misfortunes never seen before and never ever anticipated have besieged Nigeria.
Starting fromÂ Chief Olusegun Obasanjoâ€™s administration, the US publishedÂ a list of 27Â most corruptÂ Nigerian government officialsÂ which list was never allowed to see the light of the day in Nigeria butÂ which eventually culminated in the exposure ofÂ late Chief SM Afolabiâ€™s National ID card corruption scandal must have informed us what was to befall the nation.
From 1999 to date ,the once known evilsÂ of official government corruption, political murder, treasury looting, violentÂ religious riots, mass unemployment, insecurity ofÂ lives and property, massive importation of food and critical necessities of life, governmental policy reverses, governmental lying, capital and key industries flight out of Nigeria to other African countries et al have added new dreadful entrants like kidnaping , militancy and nowÂ sadly the grand father of criminal activities-Â â€œAbdul Muttalab International Terrorism.
Perhaps the greatest of the assault at the peace and unity of recent time is the current shame of hide and seek political gambit the nation with mad heads is playing over the health of PresidentÂ Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua
Notably, the prayerful and demonstration of open support by all and sundry, Christians and Muslims to theÂ current very painful health status of President Umaru Yarâ€™AduaÂ stand unequalled in the political history of this nation.
As such,Â there can be foundÂ no justifiable reasons than HEAD MADNESS why anybody should hold the nation to ransom,Â refusing to allow the necessities of Constitutional provisions interplay to come into effect in this matter.
Unfortunately for the nation, as I always said and maintained, NigeriaÂ has Jonathan as Vice President but not Good luck.
Until Nigerian massesÂ rise up to take their fortunes in their hands by forcing the instrument of national shame out of power, there is no way Jonathan devoid of Good luck would be installed as Acting President of Nigeria.
I donâ€™t understand the argument – Kukah
ReverendÂ Father Matthew Hassan Kukah was the Secretary of National Conference on Political Reforms heldÂ in the era of President Obasanjo andÂ he says he does not understand the angst being expressed by Nigerians on Yar’Adua’s absenceÂ as governance is still going on:
I donâ€™t understand the brouhahaÂ about President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s illness and the issue of having an Acting President. Has the Vice President complained that he doesnâ€™t have enough powers? If he has not complained, why are people crying more than the bereaved?
The VP has not said that there is anythingÂ that comes before his table that he doesnâ€™tÂ have the power to handle. If he doesnâ€™t have the power, the powers will not be given to him by the people on the streets but by the relevant arm of government .
You said the National Assembly has said it doesnâ€™t have the power to empower himÂ , so the issue is how do we understand the workings of the various arms of government? Iâ€™m saying this because a lot of things are being confused.
As far as I am concerned, people are barking at the wrong tree.
Iâ€™m still not clear what powers would be given to the Vice President, because he has not said he doesnâ€™t have powers to do XYZ. Iâ€™mÂ not quiteÂ sure that I understand what the brouhaha is all about.
You said there is a vacuum and Iâ€™m not doubting but what kind of vacuum? If we have a VP and the president is not around, how is there a vacuum? We have a new Chief Justice and a new Permanent Secretary. They were sworn in by recognised authority .I donâ€™t understand what the media is up to.
The protesters that came to Abuja are entitled to stage their protest. There is nothing criminal about that. They could stage a protest even if the President is there.
The kidnaping of four foreigners in the Niger Delta has nothing to do with the president being present or being absent.
If there are constitutional ways of empowering the VP to become the Acting President, Iâ€™m sure he knows exactly what to do. If the VP can be empowered by the people on the streets, people know what to do.
If it is the National Assembly that will empower the VP, those people equally know what to do. That the president is not on seat is for a reason everybody knows. But how do you empower the VP? You donâ€™t have the powers. I donâ€™t have the powers. A lot of peopleÂ have gotten carried away by this, but lets be clearer in the quality of analysis that we make.