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A President For These Times

NIGERIANS will make the decision tomorrow about the President that we want – someone we can call a President for these times. It is difficult to capture the expectations of Nigerians in their exact words, but with the nuances of the elections decided so far, we have a chance to make the differences we had always wanted.

What type of President does Nigerians want? Are they ready to vote that type of President into office? How are they ensuring that these expectations are meant as they vote?

Nigerians are at the crossroads again. In 1999, 2003 and 2007 we chose Presidents. From the comments that we hear, we still think that the Presidents of those times needed to do better than what we got.

The past few years have been traumatic for the country’s polity. For the first time in our history, an elected President died in office. Circumstances threw Nigeria into becoming the third country to adopt the legal shackle of Doctrine of Necessity to get Goodluck Jonathan to act as President after Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was way for 78 days.

Vacuous provisions of Section 145 state, “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice_President as Acting President.”

Debates continued about the state of Yar’Adua and the execution of his duties.  On 9 February 2010, the National Assembly relied on the Doctrine of Necessity to create an acting President for Nigeria.

“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 on 9 February 2010.
“The doctrine of necessity requires that we do what is necessary when faced with a situation that was not contemplated by the Constitution.

“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,” Mark said.

It was the third time that the Doctrine of Necessity was used, first in Pakistan (1954), Grenada (1985), and Nigeria (2010).  Goodluck Jonathan became Nigeria’s third acting President and the only one to become President. Before him were Prince Abyssinia Akweke Nwafor_Orizu (1966) and Vice Admiral Augustus Aikhomu (1991).

Nigerians need a President for these times – one who will meet their expectations on security, employment, food, health, housing, education, water, electricity, roads and other infrastructure. We need a President who will respect us, who understand and obey the Constitution, a President who will restore Nigeria’s global influence. It is the responsibility of Nigerians to find this President tomorrow.


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