The Presidency has come under fire as Christian leaders in Nigeria have vented their anger on the seat of power following President Muhammadu Buhari’s controversial hand-over letter to the National Assemble just before he proceeded on another medical trip to London.
The men in the colas frowned at the content of the letter describing it as an aberration, strange and unconstitutional document, which demeans the constitutional authority of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Buhari had written in his hand-over letter, which was addressed to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, that: “In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform the Distinguished Senate that I will be traveling 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, Vice President will coordinate the activities of the Government.”
Although the Senate quickly condemned Mr. President’s new choice of title for Vice President Osinbajo, fellow clerics feel that in doing so, the President has taken Nigerians for a ride and insisted that the Buhari should be explain to Nigerians what exactly it meant by choosing to address Osinbajo as “Coordinator of government affairs” instead of “Acting President” in the absence of Mr. President.
The Regional Secretary, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students for English and Portuguese Speaking Africa (IFES), The Revd. Gideon Para- Mallam did not mince any word in condemning the act.
“It is very unfortunate that the Presidency or the person of the President could reduce our country to such a level of illiteracy; it is very disturbing. How do you write in that I want to hand over to the Acting President as the coordinator of government affairs? Honestly I didn’t like it. But it is not about me personally, I was just thinking about the image of the nation,” Para-Mallam said.
Explaining that he wished the President good health and that clerics are actually praying for him, the minister added: “But I think it should also not make it look like all Nigerians are sick. I can feel that the people around the President should be honest enough to help him by just doing things right.”
Para-Mallam insisted that the idea of addressing Osinbajo as Coordinator of Government activities is not a good sign for the image of Nigeria saying: “Some of us are very angered because for how long will you continue to take Nigerians for ride?”
He also emphasized that the Presidency is a position that people occupy to lead while Nigeria remains bigger than the Presidency. “The Presidency should not hold Nigerians to ransom particularly the office of the President.
We understand that somebody can be unwell and for his age it is perfectly understood and I think we should not stretch this matter too far. I don’t want to sound controversial, but for goodness sake; honestly if the President is not well enough to govern this nation is it too much to resign and actually trust the affairs of this country to his Vice President. That is why they are on a joint ticket. Nigeria has suffered enough in the hands of our leaders,” Para-Mallam affirmed.
Also reacting, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Alfred Martins, added: “It’s strange because I am not sure if there is a position like that.
In fact there cannot be a position like that in the constitution of Nigeria. If he is the Vice President and the constitution of Nigeria says Vice President steps into the office in acting capacity, so be it.
A person must be completely out of order and in deed it is unconstitutional to describe Osinbajo as in this case.”
Martins contended that the National Assembly needs to call everybody to order saying: “It leaves a lot to be desired, it leaves a lot for one to imagine what is going one.
It is completely unconstitutional; the Vice President must remain the Acting President while the President is away. He did it before. It will give an impression that there people who want to scuttle the constitution of Nigeria. That there are those who are working to overthrow the country and they definitely need to be called to order.”
He added: “The President himself need to speak to the nation to explain what he means by this type of language that is completely unexpected from a man of honour that he has been over the years. It is completely outrageous