Can the President rule from home?


MUHAMMADU Buhari as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federation of Nigeria, has only one officially recognized office, and it is located in a specific place, in the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, the administrative Capital of Nigeria. He cannot, ipso facto, rule the country from his bedroom. The President cannot, for instance, receive national and international visitors, including ambassadors and Heads of State and Government, in his living-room or bedroom. If he did, he would be said to be ruling the nation-space from the “other room”!

Muhammadu Buhari is either well enough to preside over the affairs of Nigeria or he is not. The other time, he was absent from the country for close to fifty days on medical vacation. It took quite a while before his handlers agreed that the President was out of sorts. Today, the President continues to be in and out of Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings of which he is the statutory chairman.

We must, at this juncture, state that we will never gloat over the ill-health of the President or of any other person for that matter as ill-health is a natural occurrence, which nobody has control over. But if the Nigerian State is governed by the rule of law and the due process of the law, typified by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), then we must follow its sacred provisions, which the President swore to uphold, or let the lion of anarchy escape from its den.

When the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, rationalized the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last FEC meeting in Abuja in the following terms, “…And he will be working from home. He has asked that all his files be taken to him in his house today…”, he (Alhaji Lai Mohammed) told no less a lie than he told over one year ago, namely, that the Boko Haram insurgency had been “technically defeated”. How can someone who is battling with a life-threatening ill-health attend to State matters and files requiring absolute presence of mind? To say that someone with a precarious medical condition has the physical and emotional abilities to attend to the effective questions of governance in a country as big and as populated by very brilliant people as Nigeria, is to be guilty of reprehensible tergiversation.

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The Constitution is quite clear on what happens when the President or Vice-President i s on vacation or is unable to perform the functions of his office. Section 144 (1)-(5) of the Constitution provides that in the event of the President or Vice-President being unable to perform the functions of his office, he shall cease to hold office if a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the Federal Executive Council make such a declaration, subject to the provisions of subsections (2)-(5). Section 145, on the other hand, says that if and whenever the President is away from his office, he shall send a written declaration to each of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect and the Vice-President shall assume the status of Acting President.

The FEC, in the days of the late President Umar Yar’Adua, with the exception of Professor Dora Akunyili, was too lily-livered to act on the provisions of section 144 of the Constitution until the President passed on! Such, too, were his duplicitous handlers!

Here is another example of a President who is critically ill and unable to perform the functions of his office from his office. The President’s handlers, including the media chiefs and the Minister of Information and Culture, suffocate the citizenry with seamy prevarications and dissembling. We appeal to the FEC to assess the ailment of the President and make up its mind on whether or not to invoke the provisions of section 144 (1)-(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).