Uproar, as Buhari tags VP ‘co-ordinator’ in letter to NASS

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There was uproar in the polity yesterday over wording of the letter President Muhammadu Buhari sent to the Senate on his medical vacation, in which the President said that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo “will co-ordinate the activities of the government.”

President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, however, intervened on the Senate floor to stave off a constitutional fuss by quieting the agitation by senators over wording of the letter. Senior lawyers who spoke on the issue yesterday overwhelmingly backed the Senate President, affirming that transmission of the letter on the basis of Section 145 of the Constitution automatically transmitted powers to Osinbajo as Acting President. A senior Presidency source also played down the uproar in the Senate as he affirmed that Osinbajo will exercise full duties as Acting President. The reassurances nonetheless, a non-governmental organization, Advocacy for Integrity and Economic Development (AIED) saw the depiction of Osinbajo as “coordinator of government affairs” as a reflection of the undying determination of a “cabal” in the presidency to sustain its influence.

Buhari’s latest Senate letter

 

President Buhari’s letter intimating the Senate on his medical vacation had noted that the vice-president would coordinate the affairs of government in his absence. It was a departure from his previous letters in which the President had specifically stated that the vice-president would perform the functions of his office. In his letter to the Senate dated 7th May 2017, Buhari had said: “In compliance with Section 145 {1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended),  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. Please accept the distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

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