Chief Edwin Clark has said that the constitution requires President Muhammadu to transmit power to his Vice president, Yomi Osinbajo before embarking on medical vacation.
Clark said that the issue is an automatic and not optional.
Buhari on Monday jetted out of the country to London, United Kingdom for a two weeks medical trip.
Clark, who was reacting to the report of the president’s medical trip in a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja said that for the president to still be holding on to power while on medical trip overseas is illegal.
The former National Commissioner who supported his argument with section 145 of the 1999 Constitution said it was wrong for the president to continue to hold on to power when embarking on a medical trip, also cited the case of the U.S president who transmitted power to his Vice President while going in for few hours medical surgery process.
Clark in his statement titled “THE PRESIDENT MUST HANDOVER POWER TO VICE-PRESIDENT PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO TO ACT ON HIS BEHALF IN ACCORDANCE TO THE CONSTITUTION,” which was read by his son, Ibrahim Clark, also said that the idea that the president can govern from anywhere in the world is alien to the constitution.
The leader of the Southern and Medle Belt Leaders Forum stressed that the constitution put in place laws for smooth governance.
Consequently, he said Buhari must obey the letter and the spirit of the constitution by handing over power to his Vice President.
He said, “Laws, deriving from the Constitution, are made to enable smooth running of societies and governments. Therefore, all and sundry, especially people in authority, are expected to obey and abide by the laws of the land.
“Once again, yesterday, Monday, 31st October, 2022, in the afternoon, the Nigerian nation was greeted with different descriptions of news headlines such as Breaking: President Buhari Jets Out to London for Medical Treatment; Buhari jets out for 2 wk medical check in London; etc. but in all of these readings, I did not read where it was reported that for the two weeks President Muhammadu Buhari will be away to London for medical reason, he complied with the provisions of Chapter 6. Part 1. Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution on Acting President during temporary absence of President, which states that:
“Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representative a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President
“The overseeing of the affairs of the government as Acting President, is a must because the Constitution used the word SHALL which is obligatory. And anything done outside it, is unconstitutional and illegal.
“The Constitution of the nation is the grundnorm, and every aspect of it must be obeyed. Thus, Section 145 is mandatory and not discretional. The transmission of a letter to the National Assembly (NASS) ought to be automatic, and the President of the country does not have a choice to thinker with it, whether to comply or not. A President’s inability, to perform his functions, even for a few hours, mandates such action of transmitting a letter to NASS.
“This is what is done by any responsible government. Therefore, it should not be treated as breaking news, taking the whole nation by surprise, especially since it was not an emergency. President Muhammadu Buhari must have long secured this appointment with his Physicians for the check-up.
“I recall last year, 2021, in November, the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, was billed for a routine colonoscopy, which will require him to be under anesthesia for a few hours. He transferred his powers to the Vice President, Kamala Harris, to act as President of the United States of America for the few hours he will undergo the procedure. “And for that brief period, a matter of few hours, she was described as the first female acting president of the USA. As a matter of fact, after the procedure, Americans were informed of what was wrong with their President. Also, 2002 and 2007, when President George W. Bush, as President of the USA, underwent similar procedure, he did same thing; he transferred power and his Vice, who acted as President.
“Secondly, the President of Nigeria is constitutionally bound to inform Nigerians, of whatever ailment or disease he is suffering from. For which government money is being spent. Nigerians will understand; he is a human, and that is why the framers of the Constitution provided Section 145. Unfortunately, up till now, Nigerians do not know how much of tax-payers’ money is being spent on their President’s.
“For President Muhammadu Buhari, to be consistently, as this will not be the first, nor second time, disobeying the laws of the land in this regard, despite complaints by the citizenry, is very disheartening. If there are doubts, about this provision of the nation’s Constitution, the Supreme Court should be approached for interpretation, rather than outrightly, disregarding the laws of the land, by someone, who has sworn to uphold, keep and protect them.
“Unfortunately, no body bothers to take appropriate measures to ensure that right things are done properly, particularly in a situation where the President of the Senate is in partnership with the Executive, and is willing to do whatever the Executive says. I insist we have had more than enough. We are not in a military regime, where people are treated as conquered people. At 95 years old, my group has seen more than enough having being involved in the affairs of this country for over 70 (seventy) years.
“One is forced to wonder, what are the fears of President Buhari. He has a competent and fit Vice, in the person of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is very able to hold the forte. He had proved this in 2017, when Mr. President, was away on one of his numerous medical vacations.
“The nation is bleeding financially, yet the government of the day, undertakes wasteful ventures.
“We understand that files are taken to Mr. President abroad whenever he is away for him to append his signature. This is spending money and other resources recklessly. Not to talk about, the cost of parking the Presidential jet outside the country, with the number of personnel and security details who accompany Mr. President on these trips. These are avoidable expenses. And must be stopped. “Presently, the nation is so indebted, that it is feared that debts burden is left for future generations of Nigerians, to bear.
“It is mere expression of arrogance of power for Mr. President to think that he can run Nigeria, a country with more than 200 million people, from far away London, something he has not done effectively even when he is in the country.”