January 15, 2010

The Politics of Succession in Nigeria

President Yar'aduaVice President Jonathan

For the past 50 days the government of the people of Nigeria has been without a President. Now that brings to the fore certain questions. What powers does the President of the republic actually have? I mean what does he do on a daily basis? What documents needs his signature? What decisions must he approve? What directives must be issued by him? What regulations must come from him? What leadership must the administrators, ministers and the nation get from him? Now if the country can do without a President for 50 days why do they need a President in the first place? Apparently, there is no leadership vacuum in the government. So says leaders of government both in the financial, judicial, legislative and even executive arms of government.


So if that be the case why do we need a President? And why is there so much hassle about who should be the President. Presidential succession in a Presidential system of government is a very simple thing. If the President is away on a trip even for a day his Vice becomes acting President. If the President and the Vice are away at the same time even for a day a designated senior minister becomes Acting President. This should never be and has never been a permanent hand over of power. Whenever the President returns even if it be from wherever then power automatically reverts to him. If I go on sick leave for three months and someone has to act on my behalf of course he is allowed within limits to do so and to use my tools (say, computer) but he cannot change my password or delete my information or change the configuration of my office or seize my office key nor remove my name from my door. Neither can he sign a document in my name but he can sign for and on behalf of myself in certain cases that cannot wait and which I must have given him pre-directions. He must have been trained by me or the system so he can think as I think and act on things as I would have. He must be my trustee and I must trust him even with my “life”. So if Mr. Goodluck Jonathan does not meet these requirements then it begs the question. Is the President and his aides hiding something? What are they afraid of? Is the Vice an outsider in this administration?

image According to the constitution:(see Chapter VI Part I (constitution of Nigeria 1999) 145.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”  So this is quiet simple, the President transmits a declaration which the Senate and House of Representatives have no duty or power to reject before and after his vacation. The power is in the President to vacate and also to resume his duties, he only needs to notify the Assembly. So what is the President and his aides afraid of or what are they hiding. If this is an event of death (which thankfully it is not) the vice President becomes the President. The issues of zoning is actually not in the constitution but is a policy of the ruling party (the PDP) so the PDP must resolve that and leave the organs of state to run as it should under the supreme constitution of the republic. Just a thought. In the event of death the PDP can ask Mr Jonathan resign and allow the senate President to call another election.

The law and constitution of the country is clear on this. The Courts cannot force this succession. The process must be initiated by the President himself.  No court case will be able to transfer power to the Vice President in spite of the President himself. Mr President must realise that his preaching of rule of law is now being discredited by himself. It will appear that the rule of law principle which he espoused is just a lame excuse to be less than committed to governance if not absent. Or else he has failed to provide leadership to his aides on the principles which he considers as cardinal to his style of leadership – i.e. “rule of law”.

Nigeria must clean up its house and run an open and transparent government based on the principles of the constitution. Why do you always have to be the laughing stock of the world. S88K97SVHVKW


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