Another round of political crisis may be in the offing for Nigeria, as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was not properly designated as Acting President in a letter sent to the National Assembly to authoritize his powers.
In the letter sent to the senate by President Muhammadu Buhari, notifying lawmakers of his medical trip, Buhari only said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will “coordinate” the nation’s affairs while he is abroad for medical treatment.
However, this raised questions Tuesday at the Senate’s floor about Osinbajo’s powers after Buhari had failed to address him as “Acting President.”
Buhari left Nigeria Sunday night, shortly after receiving 82 Chibok girls who regained freedom after three years in Boko Haram captivity.
Since coming to power in May 2015, it is the fourth time Osinbajo would be acting on behalf of the President.
Buhari has won praises for promptly handing over power before embarking on each trip.
This time, the president said his stay in the United Kingdom would be determined by his doctors which could prolong his absence for as long as the doctor dictates.
This has led to many calling for an amendment of the 1999 constitution to state categorically the length of period, a President can be relieved of his official duties before being declared incapacitated to perform his functions.
But his latest correspondence to the Senate, read by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, was questioned by a Senator who argued that Osinbajo should have been designated “acting president”
Mao Ohabunwa, a Peoples Democratic Party senator, representing Abia North, said it was not proper to name the vice president “coordinator” of the nation’s affairs.
He was however ruled out of order by Saraki, after the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, defended Buhari, citing Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution.
That section says, “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives 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.”