…N/Assembly to simply concur with President

By From Alifa Daniel, Asst Political Editor, Abuja   |   10 May 2010   |   2:18 pm  
AS the death of the nation’s third democratically elected president sank into most residents in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the weekend the politicians who joined the mourning, were not oblivious of the unfolding power play.

The crux of the matter was who from the North, possibly a Muslim, would take over the mantle of leadership from Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Many names are being bandied around in Abuja. They include the National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt.-Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, Governor of Niger State Aliyu Babangida, Governor of Gombe State Danjuma Goje and the Governor of Jigawa State Sule Lamido.

Lamido has said that he is not interested in the office. While many will wait with bated breath for the announcement of the appointment of a Vice President, a lawmaker with a legal background said the National Assembly would not screen whomever the President forwarded to the federal lawmakers.

“We will just approve the nominee,” he said.

That might be the case, going by the 1999 Constitution. Section 146 of the constitution states: “(1) The Vice-President shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with section 143 of this Constitution.

“(2) Where any vacancy occurs in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (1) of this section during a period when the office of Vice-President is also vacant, the President of the Senate shall hold the office of President for a period of not more than three months, during which there shall be an election of a new President, who shall hold office for the unexpired term of office of the last holder of the office.

“(3) Where the office of Vice-President becomes vacant:- (a) by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal in accordance with section 143 or 144 of this Constitution; (b) by his assumption of the office of President in accordance with subsection (1) of this section; or (c) for any other reason, the President shall nominate and, with the approval of each House of the National Assembly, appoint a new Vice-President.”

Governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, may have been prophetic when he recently told journalists in New York about the vacuum in the presidency, when Jonathan was acting President.

He had said: “When the President was there, each of them was playing his role, now he is combining both. It is a real burden on him (Jonathan); I really sympathise with him. He is going to be overburdened; he will need many more hands. He will need many more hands to delegate responsibilities…

“Then if he is overstretched, the nation will pay the price for it, because he would not have the time.

“For example, he is playing the role of the President as the chairman of the National Council of State, the chairman of the Executive Council of the Federation, but the constitution has assigned other roles to the Vice-President. For example, the Vice-President is the chairman of the National Economic Council and chairman of several other statutory bodies.

“I only pray that this will not be too long because if it is for too long, some few things will have to suffer. It is either the statutory role of the Vice-President will suffer or the statutory role of the President will suffer. He cannot run both effectively as a single person because it was anticipated that the roles are to be played by two people. There are certain things you cannot delegate lower than the vice-president level.

“It is a real burden. It is an arrangement that nobody anticipated but we have found ourselves in it now and I pray it doesn’t affect the system.”

Speaking just when the late president returned from Saudi Arabia, the governor noted, ” Vice-President has been empowered as Acting President, and by that acting capacity, there is not any of the President’s powers that he would not be in a position to exercise.

“The only thing is that I hope this is not going to be a too long thing because it has its disadvantages. Even though nobody can say how soon the President will recover, that is not within anybody’s control.”



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