- Want senate president to set up a medical panel
A registered political party, the National Conscience Party (NCP), and four others, acting under Coalition of Concerned Nigerians yesterday asked the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to immediately disclose the true nature of the ailment of President Muhammadu Buhari to the public.
The group also asked the council to write a letter to the Senate president to set up a medical panel pursuant to Section 144 (4) of the constitution.
The group in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday said having spent 114 days out of the first 180 days of the year on medical examination, Buhariâ€™s suitability to continue in office had become an issue.
It said there was an urgent need for FEC to write the National Assembly to request a medical examination of Buhari for the purpose of determining his suitability to remain in office.
The statement issued on behalf of the group was signed by the Chairman of NCP, Alhaji Tanko Yinusa; a legal practitioner, Mr. Ikechukwu; a former commissioner in the Delta State Oil Producing Commission (DESOPADEC); Mr. Ken Okolugbo; a legal practitioner, Mr. Turner Ogboru; lawyer and a chartered accountant and public affairs analyst, Bala Zakkar,
The group also asked the National Assembly to amend the constitution to remove the power to initiate investigation into the health of the president from FEC and to also put a limit to the duration a president or governor could go on medical vacation.
The group said: â€œWhile we acknowledge the raging issues of whether or not Nigeria should restructure or separate in view of ongoing agitations all over the nation, we address you today on what we regard as the most fundamental issue of governance presently clogging the wheels of dividends of democracy to our teeming citizens.
â€œThe issue is the current state of health of our dear president and the delicate and desperate attempt to hide the true state of affairs regarding the president from Nigerians who voted him into power and to whom is owed a genuine level of transparency as a fundamental element of good governance.â€
While wishing the president quick recovery, the group said what Nigerians experienced in the last six months regarding the presidentâ€™s health had become very worrisome.
It said: â€œThere is a gradual drift of conflict as to who indeed is in control of the levers of presidential powers presently. We are effectively living in a situation where we have two presidents, one substantive, the other acting, no thanks to the lacuna created by the constitution.
â€œThis is wrong and the only thing needed for wrong to flourish is for good people to do or say nothing. We think it is wrong for us to keep quiet.â€
The group stated that in the past six months, the president had been out of the country for 124 days and still counting.
â€œOur worry is as to the exact nature of the presidentâ€™s health and the fact that this has been kept secret from Nigerians who pay his medical bills and who are entitled to know the state of health of their president,â€ the group added.
It recalled that when the late President, Umaru Yarâ€™Adua was ill and was away from Nigeria for 79 days, it was the present president, who called on Yarâ€™Adua to resign or be impeached by the National Assembly.
It said: â€œThe chicken has come home to roost and it is now the turn of Buhari to walk his talk.
â€œWhile we are not here calling for his resignation or impeachment, we are insistent that the nature and cause of his illness be disclosed to Nigerians.â€
The group said there were certain elements of governance that had been on hold as a result of the absence of the president.
It also noted that the constitution as amended was not helpful.
â€œWhile we acknowledge that the president complied with the provisions of Section 145 of the Constitution in transmitting the required letter to the National Assembly and transferring power to the acting president, we are convinced that the handlers of the president are taking advantage of the lacuna in the said section of the constitution which did not place a time frame within which the president can stay away,â€ the group further said.
The group also said Nigerians should not allow a cabal to hold the country to ransom.
Excerpts from the statement read: â€œA president that has stayed away from his country for a minimum of 114 days out of a possible 180 days cannot be said to be ordinarily capable of performing the functions of his office especially when the absence is as a result of ill health.
â€œThe natural sequence and logical step is to embark on a dispassionate enquiry of the nature of the aliment holding the president down. This need not be for the purposes of declaring him permanently incapacitated to carry on the functions of his office but to keep the citizenry informed as to the nature of the health of their president.
â€œUnfortunately, the responsibility to kick-start the process of this enquiry lies with FEC populated by appointees of the same president.â€