Ambiguity As Buhari ‘Fails’ To Handover

President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo at the State House shortly before the President left for London
President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo at the State House shortly before the President left for London

The Senate was jolted today at plenary when Abia State lawmaker, Mao Ohabunwa, pointed out what he described as ambiguity in the latest letter sent to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari informing it of his medical trip to London.

Ohabunwa noted that unlike the previous letters where the President was clear that Osinbajo would perform as acting president in his absence, the recent letter said the Vice President would “coordinate the affairs of government.”

The letter read: “I wish to inform the distinguished senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow-up with my doctors in London. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctors’ advice.

“While I am away, the vice-president will coordinate the activities of the government.”

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Ohabunwa after the letter was read by Senate President Bukola Saraki, pointed out the ambiguity, saying that “coordinating” has no place in the constitution.

“Any letter should be unambiguous and very clear, so I’m saying that this letter really does not convey anything because coordinating has no place in our constitution,” he said.

“We having been having letters like this, you tell us he is the acting president so we know who to deal with as a senate.

“I am saying that this letter for me is not right and maybe it should be sent back.”

However, he was ruled out of order after Senate majority leader, Ahmed Lawan, opposed his observation, saying that the President had complied with constitutional provisions by informing the Senate of his trip.

The development is already generating controversy among Nigerians with speculations that there may be more to the letter than meets the eye.

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A civil society group Advocacy for Integrity and Economic Development, AIED, has described the designation of Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo as ‘coordinator of national affairs’ as a desecration of the office of the President and a complete aberration.

AIED’s director of research and publicity, O’Seun John, in a statement on Tuesday said the development was the handiwork of the ‘cabal’ within the presidency who plot to create confusion in the country by continuously interfering with the decision of the President.

The statement read: “We are extremely saddened with the content of President Buhari’s letter where he neglected tradition and voice of sanity to dance to the tune of political vampires by importing a lexicon alien to our constitution.

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“While we are aware of the unambiguous provision of section 145, we are frightened by signals such as this on the peace and unity of our country.

“The new designation of Professor Osinbajo can only be interpreted to mean that President Buhari does not trust him enough to act as the President in his absence.

“With this reality, we are now forced to ask: who does President Buhari truly recognise as the Acting President?

“This act has put paid to any form of doubt that the powers controlling the affairs of the country have greater influence and perhaps, control than the vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.”

It is left to be seen whether the President’s choice of words in his letter would have any import in the running of government while he is away.

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