Senators Were Locked In A Big Argument Over The President’s Medical Leave Letter.

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At issue was President Muhammadu Buhari’s description of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo as the person to “coordinate activities of the government”.

But to Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan, it was all a storm in a teacup. He criticised the point of order raised by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa. Senate President Bukola Saraki then upheld Lawan’s argument and declared Osinbajo Acting President.

It was all at the Senate plenary after Saraki read the letter from the President who has travelled to London on “medical follow-up”. However, at the House of Representatives, there was no controversy when the letter was read by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

President Buhari’s May 5 letter states that while he is away, the vice president will “coordinate activities of the government”. The length of his stay in London will be determined by his doctor’s advice, the letter states.

The letter reads: “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 doctor’s 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.”

Hardly had Saraki concluded reading the letter than Senator Ohuabunwa raised a Point of Order. Ohuabunwa (Abia North) had noted that the Constitution had no provision for a coordinating president or a coordinating vice president.

He said presidential letters to “the Senate, the highest legislative body in the country, should be direct and unambiguous.”

Ohuabunwa said: “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 otherwise that he is unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such function shall be discharged by vice president as acting president.

“Mr. President I don’t think in our Constitution we have anything like ‘coordinating president or coordinating vice president’. “It is either you are vice president or you are acting president and any letter should be unambiguous and very clear.

“So, I’m saying that this letter really does not convey anything because coordinating has no space or any place in our Constitution. “We have been having letters like this and you tell us who is the acting president and we know who to deal with as a Senate.

“This is the highest legislative body of the country and if you are sending us letter it should be direct and unambiguous. So, I am saying that this letter for me is not right and maybe should be sent back.”

Lawan urged the Senate to disregard Ohuabunwa’s point of order noted that Section 145 (1) of the Constitution which President Buhari quoted is clear on who should act in the absence of Mr. President.

The Yobe North lawmaker said any other word contained in the presidential letter is irrelevant. Lawan said: “Mr. President, let me say that the Point of Order raised by my colleague and the explanation that subsequently followed shouldn’t have been.

“I still rely on the first paragraph of that letter which Mr. President wrote to this Senate and read by the President of the Senate and I will read Section (145), which reads, ‘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…”

“Any other word in this letter or indeed anywhere else is irrelevant. I therefore feel that Mr. President has done what the Constitution requires him to do and I urge this Senate not to go ahead to discuss this because it’s not an issue.

“We have the budget and so many other serious issues for us to discuss and Nigerians are waiting.” Senate President agreed with Lawan that Section 145 quoted in the presidential letter is unambiguous.

He said the Senate should always be guided by the provisions of the Constitution in carrying out its legislative functions. “I think it is a very clear issue and what we should be guided by is the Constitution.

“I think that it is clear, the letter has referred to the Constitution and there is no ambiguity in the Constitution. “So, I don’t think there is any issue there. Let me rule you out of order Senator Mao.”

Some of the lawmakers insisted that “leaving out the fact that the Vice President should act in the absence of the President may have been “deliberate to create avoidable confusion”.

According to one of them, “this is not the first time President Buhari left the country for medical attention and it was clear in his letter to the Senate the fact the vice president should act in his absence in line with the Constitution.

“This time around ‘coordinating the affairs of government’ crept in. “It should be abundantly stated that the vice president is the acting president . Any other coinage, including the so-called ‘coordinating affairs of government’, is not necessary.”

In a letter to the Senate in January, President Buhari specifically said “while I am away, the vice president will perform the functions of my office.” This time around, President Buhari said that the vice president will “coordinate affairs of government.”

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His highly motivated and creative individual with great skills of managerial leadership enveloped with a history of promotion and surpassing business objectives. Graduated from the University of Abuja where he studied mass communication.

He is a Nigerian and an entrepreneur who has championed many courses in humanitarian projects. He is the managing director of Kefiano furniture palace, a furniture company with about 3 branches in Abuja and 1 in Port-Harcourt.

His the founder of Amadurs.com and also the founder of Naiprom.com.

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