By Ise-Oluwa Ige

ABUJA—FORMER Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Omotunde Ilori, yesterday, hailed the decision by the Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, headed by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan over its decision to move the country forward instead of discussing the health status of ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

The retired judge who said that more than three months had already been wasted discussing the health status of President Yar’Adua by EXCOF while its primary duty of governance was suffering, stressed that enough was enough and that Jonathan Goodluck should be given the opportunity to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

He said: “After all, he has been empowered to perform the full presidential functions in acting capacity. Enough is enough. If members of the Executive Council of the Federation spend the remainder of his tenure to discuss Yar’Adua’s ill-health, what time are they going to spend on governance.

“I think they should stop talking about Yar’Adua. Leave the President alone. Let him recuperate. And leave Jonathan alone, let him concentrate. If he will come back to office, he will come. But the argument on his ill-health is not what Nigeria needs now. Let’s talk about governance.”

According to Bamidele Aturu “They know that they all have a duty and they are running away from that duty. They are making it to look as if the office of the president is like a personal property of President Yar’Adua. That is wrong. The Office of the President is not a personal estate of President Yar’Adua. It is a constitutional office.

“It is not correct for them to say he should be left alone as president when provisions of the 1999 constitution are clear about the fate that should befall a sitting president who is no longer incapable of discharging the functions of his office.

“Jonathan is trying to be loyal to his boss. I understand that. But the point, however, is that the office is not a personal office. It is a constitutional office which involves procedure. Since he is sick and cannot perform, the procedure is that members of the Executive Council of the Federation should pass a resolution and the Senate president is expected to set up a five-member panel of medical doctors including his personal physician to verify the resolution and ease him out. The man is not fine and he has to give way so that the country can move forward.”

According to Chris Uche, SAN, “Morally speaking, I think it is not right that they should know that this is the situation and yet they are unable to take a decision about him one way or the other.

But politically speaking, I think the application of that section 144 of the 1999 constitution must be weighed against the political realities of the moment particularly the need to maintain some stability, given the volatile nature of this issue. And I believe it is the political judgment that they are applying in this case and not trying to apply the constitution in the most legalistic manner.


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