President Muhammadu Buhari has travelled from Saudi Arabia to the UK for private reasons, and will be governing Nigeria in his pajamas wherever he is till Nov 17, a situation that worries many Nigerians, especially the opposition.
Before the rumoured breach between them, the president was readily handing the reins over to his vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, anytime he travelled outside of Nigeria.
The latest decision to sidetrack the vice president in situations like this now looks to many as impunity, and the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), a mercenary of the PDP and its loser presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, has raised the alarm again.
CUPP expects Buhari to transmit a letter to NASS, informing them he will be handing over to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo anytime the president is out of the country.
Some interpreters of the constitution agree on this, too.
But the constitution states a condition: If the leave is more than 21 days, the president could follow the procedure and hand over to his sidekick.
Buhari himself took advantage of this provision in his defence when a rights lawyer, Inibiehe Effiong, sued him in September for refusing to hand over to Osinbajo during his travel on April 25 to May 5.
The president argued the time within which he has to transmit a written letter to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is 21 days.
“That the President’s foreign trip lasted for nine days from April 25, 2019, to May 5, 2019. The President did not exceed the 21-day period required by the Constitution. It is in the interest of justice to dismiss the claims of the plaintiff,” he said in part in his affidavit.
But CUPP is again rehashing the old argument, saying while citizens are suffering and the security of the nation is facing serious challenge, the president has left again, and didn’t deem it fit to hand over power to the Osinbajo.
“We are concerned about who is going to be taking decisions till next month ending when our Supreme majesty will return?” the group said in a statement Tuesday.
CUPP is either being mischievous by politicizing this or it has a better interpretation.
However, Buhari’s decision to now ignore his vice president is flush with what the conspiracy theorists have said: that the Aso Rock cabal are out to clip Osinbajo’s wing for being a Johnny-on-the-spot the last time power was handed over to him.
At that time in 2018, Osinbajo sacked the hatchet man of the cabal, DSS former boss Lawan Daura; he forwarded a letter to NASS to confirm the appointment of the disgraced CJN Walter Onnoghen; and he forwarded the confirmation letter of the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, to NASS.
According to the theorists, the cabal felt Osinbajo over-reached himself taking those decision as acting president. And the decision was made—that he will never get in that seat again.
And Buhari might just be confirming that, the 21-day provision being an excuse.
Before the rift, Buhari had, on short visit out of the country, at least twice, trusted his seat to Osinbajo.