Buhari’s medical vacation: NASS says no cause for alarm

President Buhari receiveing Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate Leader Senator Ahmed Lawan on Wednesday in London

For members of the House of Representatives, there is no cause for alarm over the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari who is presently on a medical vacation in London.

The members are relying on the assurances from the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. To them, the report presented to them by the leadership of the National Assembly on the president’s state of health was all that they needed to arrive at the conclusion that there is the need to tarry awhile and watch as Buhari’s medical condition unfold. Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara were in the UK penultimate week to see things for themselves. They both gave President Buhari a clean bill of health.

Saraki had in a statement, on his return remarked thus: “The president I saw today is healthy, witty and himself. The President’s absence and imminent return showed that there is no vacuum in government and our system of democracy is working with all organs of government fulfilling their mandate. And let me use the time tested cliché, there is no cause for alarm!

Dogara, on his twitter handle has this to say on the President’s health status: “After discussing burning national issues, it was all PMB’s vintage humorous jokes. I’m so elated he is as fit as a fiddle.”

The Senate leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Sulaimon Yussuff Lasun were also part of the fact finding trip where they met President Buhari in Abuja House, London.

Investigation revealed that members of the lower legislative chamber are neither contemplating the prospect of declaring the Buhari incapacitated, nor are they about to invoke the “doctrine of necessity “ as was witnessed during the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua era. Indeed, the lawmakers appear comfortable with the way and manner the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo had been calling the shots in Buhari ‘s absence.

Spokesperson for the House of Representatives, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas said the National Assembly has no compelling reason to invoke such powers on the issue for now.

He submitted: “The President has done the needful. He has communicated to the House before leaving. He told us he was going on vacation. Alongside, he will embark on a medical check and when he got there, he discovered that that it was not possible to return within the period he told us and we have also received another letter from him. The truth is that section 145 of the 1999 Constitution says once the President is going on vacation, he should communicate the Senate and the House of Representatives and ask the Vice President to act on his behalf. He has done what the constitution required him to do. And it is in order. 

On what to do when President Buhari fails to return to work at an appropriate time, he said: “There would be the time to do so if the President stays longer than necessary. Even the constitution did not specify the days. Let us wait and see what goes on before we pre-empt what we could have done. We should pray that he recovers instead of expecting us to invoke the doctrine of necessity, as if we are asking the President to go before his time. We should pray and be hopeful that our President should recover. I am sure he would recover and return at the appropriate time to take his seat.”

Garba Datti, member representing Sabon Gari Federal Constituency, Kaduna State, said: “As far as I am concerned, his absence is not affecting governance in any way because already, there is an Acting President who has been given the full powers of the president and he is executing such powers. We have seen how he forwarded the name of the acting Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN) for confirmation; he has assented to some bills and returned others. So, he is performing the function of the president. He has even presided over the Federal Executive Council meetings. That is why you have a presidency, the president and his deputy. It is envisaged that in a situation where the president is not around, the powers are to be transferred to the Acting President. So, I think this is very normal.”

On whether there was the need to declare the President incapacitated, he said: “How do you declare a person incapacitated? It is only doctors that can do that and there are procedures even to do that. Even that question does not even arise. Everybody has seen that the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives visited him and they had very meaningful discussion. Comparing the Buhari case to Yar’Adua, they are two completely different scenarios. 

For Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing Egor/ Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency of Edo State: “It has not gotten to a level he can be declared incapacitated at all. Which constitutional provision are you going to rely on? Can you show me where it is written in the constitution that when the President is having a health issue and has gone for medical treatment then you declare him incapacitated?

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