Clark: Buhari May Plunge Nigeria into Another Constitutional Crisis Like Yar’Adua

•Says nation bleeding, tells president to hand over power to Osinbajo 

• Asks commander-in-chief to declare his health status to Nigerians

Emameh Gabriel in Abuja

Elder statesman and leader of the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, warned that President Muhammadu Buhari might plunge the country into another constitutional crisis, reminiscent of the era of former President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, who died in office in May 2010 after a terminal ailment. Speaking at a press briefing yesterday at his Abuja residence, Clark

Clark called on Bubari to handover power to his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and “allow him act on his behalf in accordance to the constitution”. He also enjoined Buhari to declare his health status to Nigerians, whose money he used to run his numerous overseas trips and medical expenses.

Warning Buhari and his handlers that they must by every means avoid dragging the country into another constitutional crisis, as witnessed during the last days of Yar’Adua, the former federal commissioner stressed that whatever actions about the government the president took outside the country was illegal and against the constitution of the land.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday at his Abuja residence, Clark said he was worried that Nigerians were silent while Buhari continued to take them for granted in the last seven years.

According to the elder statesman, “Laws deriving from the constitution are made to enable smooth running of societies and governments. Therefore, all and sundry, especially people in authority, are expected to obey and abide by the laws of the land.

“Once again, yesterday, Monday 31st of October 2022, in the afternoon, the Nigerian nation was greeted with different descriptions of news headlines, such as, ‘Breaking: President Buhari jets out to London for medical treatment’, ’Buhari jets out for two-week medical check in London’, etc.

“But in all of these readings, I did not read where it was reported that for the two weeks President Muhammadu Buhari will be away in London for medical reasons, he complied with the provisions of chapter six, part one section 145 of the 1999 constitution.

“The constitution of the nation is the grundnorm and every aspect of it must be obeyed. Thus, section 145 is mandatory and not discretionary. The transmission of a letter to the National Assembly ought to be automatic. And the president of the country does not have a choice to tinker with it, or whether to comply or not.

“A president’s inability to perform his functions, even for a few hours, mandates such action of transmitting a letter to the National Assembly. This is what is done by any responsible government. Therefore, it should not be treated as breaking news.

“Taking the whole nation by surprise, especially, since it was not an emergency, President Muhammadu Buhari must have long secured this appointment with his physicians for the checkup.

“Secondly, the president of Nigeria is constitutionally bound to inform Nigerians of whatever ailment or disease he is suffering from, especially one from which the government money is being spent. Nigerians will understand he is a human and that is why the framers of the constitution provided section 145. Unfortunately, up till now, Nigerians do not know how much of taxpayers’ money is being spent on their president.”

Clark said in spite of the breaches, it was unfortunate that “nobody bothers to take appropriate measures to ensure that the right things are done properly, particularly, in a situation, where the president of the Senate is in partnership with the executive and is willing to do whatever the executive says.”

He lamented that Nigerians had “had more than enough. We are not in a military regime, where people are treated as conquered people”.

Clark said expressed suspicion about a grand conspiracy against the vice president, because of his proven records as acting president.

Clark stated, “One is forced to wonder what are the fears of President Buhari? He has a competent and fit deputy in person of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is very able to hold the fort. He has proven this in 2017, when Mr. President was away on one of his numerous medical vacations.

“The nation is bleeding financially. The government of the day undertakes wasteful ventures. We understand that files are taken to Mr. President abroad whenever he is away for him to append his signature. This is spending money and other resources recklessly.

“Not to talk about the cost of parking the presidential jet outside the country with the number of personnel and security detail, who accompany Mr President on these trips. These avoidable expenses must be stopped. Presently, the nation is so indebted that it is feared the debt burden is left for the future generations of Nigerians.”

Citing what transpired during the last days of late President Yar’Adua in office, Clark recalled how the country was dragged into in constitutional crisis, because the former president did not handover power to then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said, “We remember what happened, when Yar’Adua travelled for treatment and did not transmit power. He left the country in a serious constitutional crisis till the Doctrine of Necessity was invoked. This is a mere expression of arrogance of power for Mr. President to think that he can run Nigeria, a country with more than 200 million people, from faraway London. Something he has not done effectively, even when he is in the country.”

Clark expressed disappointment at government’s disposition on the current flood challenge ravaging different communities in the country. He called on the president to declare a state of emergency on states affected by flood, saying the first family has failed to show enough sympathy to victims of natural disasters in the country.

He stated, “I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on the ravaging floods. This is not right. The president should, therefore, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency in Bayelsa, Kogi, Delta, Rivers, etc, which are currently overwhelmed by the floods.”

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