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ISSUES SURROUNDING THE HEALTH STATUS OF THE PRESIDENT 

ISSUES SURROUNDING THE HEALTH STATUS OF THE PRESENT
Today marks the 60th day since President Muhammadu Buhari left for London on medical vacation.

And given the continued secrecy surrounding his health status, audible voices from around the country have been expressing strong opinions that the relevant constitutionally empowered bodies should activate the process for the president’s removal, or in the very least, a full disclosure on the president’s health be made by his team.

Just recently, Concerned Nigerians, a pro-democracy group, issued an ultimatum to the president to address the nation via live video on or before Friday, July 8 or face a peaceful mass action across the nation.

In a statement signed by the convener, Deji Adeyanju who is a former director of New Media for the PDP, and Secretary, John Danfulani, the group also demanded that a medical panel be set up to determine whether or not, the president is incapacitated.

The 60-day mark which doubles as the stated maximum limit for a president’s entitled annual leave, has assumed especially significant threshold owing largely to the view fast gaining traction that should the president exceed it, his fate in office will be out of his hands.

But this matter is not so straightforward. In this case, President Buhari embarked on what he called “a scheduled medical follow-up”, the length of which he expressly stated will “be determined by the doctors’ advice”.

This was as contained in the 5th May 2017 controversial letter he transmitted to the National Assembly titled, “MEDICAL FOLLOW-UP”, which the NASS eventually affirmed as duly in conformity with the provisions of Section 145 of the Nigerian constitution, effectively laying to rest any further official controversy.

In light of all these, we look at some compelling reasons why the president’s position is not under threat at the moment.

1) Cabinet too loyal! A two third vote against Buhari far-fetched

On the demand for an open independent medical evaluation of the president, the chances are extremely slim. For this to happen, Section 144, which requires a resolution of two-thirds majority of all members of the executive council declaring the president incapable of discharging the functions of his office, will have to be activated.

Just to be clear, members of the executive council are all appointees of the president. Considering the loyalty and support which the president still enjoys from the cabinet, it is a pipe dream to expect this process to be activated.

2) Esprit de corp! Overwhelming collective disregard for transparency

The continued collective disregard for transparency regarding the health of the president by the cabinet is proof enough of their united stand in this anomaly. And as long as the process for declaring the president incapacitated remains unactivated, the National Assembly will be unable to set in motion the follow-up medical status verification process, hence allowing the status quo to persist.

3) Impeachment process too cumbersome, complex

Furthermore, the issue of impeachment as advocated by some appears quite far-fetched. For this to happen, a months-long complex and lengthy process beginning with a written allegation of gross misconduct signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly will have to be initiated. This process will end with a resolution of each House of the National Assembly supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, adopting the report of investigations into the allegations as contained in Section 143 of the constitution. Going through with this historic process will require a level of commitment and singular focus that are at the moment far outside the usual practice of Nigeria’s legislators.

4) He is clean! Difficult to establish any case of misconduct

Though gross misconduct is subject to interpretation, the issue at hand does not appear even remotely within the realm of misconduct as the president duly transmitted the letter constitutionally expected of him before proceeding on his medical vacation, and one which was affirmed by the NASS.

More so, with a NASS leadership led by members of the president’s party and backed by a majority of members from the president’s party, their disagreements notwithstanding, it is very unlikely that such an unprecedented step will be taken anytime soon.

Moreover, there are other regional, political and even religious interests at play.

5) There is no vacuum! Osinbajo is already Acting President

Perhaps the most unlikely demand to be effected is the call for the president’s resignation. At this moment, it is unclear what President Buhari’s actual state of health is, but what is clear is that the president and his enablers have continued to advance the narrative that he embarked on a normal medical vacation to which he is entitled after fulfilling the constitutional requirement, and will be resuming his duties as president sometime in the future.

A consequent argument to this is the claim that no vacuum exists since the country has an acting president. The recent widely circulated personally signed condolence message on the late Maitama Sule by President Buhari is another sure proof that the narrative of his soundness of mind and progressive journey in recovery as has consistently been maintained by his team is not about to be abandoned. No one should bank on President Buhari resigning!

By OGUNBIYI JOYCE SEYI






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