For Immediate Release
THE CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS IN NIGERIA: Urgent action required
The Save Nigeria Group (SNG) is compelled to once again address the contrived Constitutional crisis in Nigeria, occasioned by the hijack of power by President Umaru Yar’adua’s coterie of political hangers-on for the past sixty seven days.
When President Umaru Musa Yar’adua was sworn in on the 29th of May, 2007 at the Eagle square, he made a solemn promise to Nigerians to be a ‘servant leader’ who would rule by strict adherence to the rule of law. He promised among other things to place national interest above personal interest. However, given his behavior in the past 67 days in which he has held the nation at ransom, leaving her without a functioning and undisputed leader with the ability to lead Nigeria proactively and responsibly react to crises , it has become obvious to right thinking Nigerians that these promises, like his promise to reform the electoral system, were just empty rhetoric and sloganeering.
President Yar’adua and his kitchen cabinet have deliberately contrived a situation where a lacuna in leadership at the Federal level has caused Nigeria to hop from one avoidable crisis after the other including but not limited to the following;
i.The blacklisting of Nigeria as a nation that harbors terrorists and the consequent travel and visa restrictions on Nigerians in addition to the enhanced security spotlight on Nigerian travelers which will no doubt impede them as they go about their lawful international economic and social activities. This blacklisting was only possible because of the non-response by the Nigerian leadership in the wake of the Abdulmutallab incidence as a result of the lacuna in leadership at the Federal level.
ii.The slow reaction to the Jos and Bauchi riots and consequent increase in loss of lives and property as a result of the understandable hesitancy of the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan to exercise the powers of the Commander in Chief without a lawful transfer of power as prescribed by the constitution as well as the overbearing interference of the president’s kitchen cabinet. These crises and the reaction to them have once again prompted the International Community’s reaction blaming Nigeria’s leadership failures as the root cause.
iii.The controversy over the swearing in of the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, which has left the new CJN holding a ‘tainted’ mandate.
iv.The controversy over the signing of the 2009 Supplementary Budget in as yet unclear circumstances.
v.The rash of court cases including the clearly conflicting rulings by Justice Dan Abutu suggesting that the Vice President can exercise, delegated executive power, and then subsequently directing the Executive Council of the Federation to perform its constitutional role in view of the log jam Nigeria has been caught in.
As a result of these crises, the uncertainty in Nigeria has reached unprecedented levels and has led to demonstrations all over Nigeria and calls by pre eminent Nigerian statesmen, including three former heads of state, and the International Community for President Yar’adua to obey the constitution and transfer power to his deputy until such a time as he is able to return to his duties. In the light of these calls, we have received with relief and commend the resolution of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria calling on President Yar’adua to hand over power to his deputy as prescribed by the constitution, though we believe they could have acted much earlier and farther than they have gone. We also thank the Senate for resisting moves from the President’s kitchen cabinet to first block debate, then attempt to ethnicize and emotionalize what is a purely constitutional matter.
Given that the Executive Council of the Federation, the body constitutionally tasked with the role of initiating the process of declaring the president incapacitated, has shirked that role for the personal interests of its members over national interest and acting like Ministers of the President instead of Ministers of the Federal Republic that they are, having passed a resolution that President Yar’adua is capable of holding office (even where its members had admitted on the BBC as well as at the Senate that they had not spoken to the president since he left Nigeria in November of 2009) it has become necessary to look beyond the Executive Council of the Federation for a resolution of this induced crisis. They also embarrassed themselves by declaring a man who in his alleged interview with the BBC admitted his incapacity when he said that only his doctors could determine his return upon fitness. It is therefore the recommendation of SAVE NIGRERIA GROUP that having failed to do its duty, the onus is now on:
(1) the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to step in and save Nigeria by impeaching the president for his serial violations of the Constitution, and replacing him with his deputy in keeping with their constitutional role of checking the excesses of the Executive, and;
(2) the courts to exercise judicial courage by declaring what every Nigeria knows to be true – that an employee, a public servant – who is absent from his duty post without permission for over 2 months can be declared incapacitated, and is entitled to be dismissed from his job according to cases presently before them.
We applaud the patriotic call by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike and the Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Adulrahman Dambazau for members of the Nigerian Armed Forces to resist all attempts to intervene in this issue and back such a call. The Nigerian constitution even with its now obvious flaws has enough inbuilt mechanisms to resolve this and related issues.
Finally, we sound a note of warning to the cabal behind this crisis that Nigerians under the aegis of SNG have shown the capacity to resist tyranny in Abuja, Lagos, London, New York and other cities. We shall not hesitate to step up these campaigns in the days ahead if this issue is not expeditiously resolved in line with the constitution.
For: Save Nigeria Group
(1) Engr. Baba Galadima (2) Mr. Yinka Odumakin (3) Mr. Osita Okechukwu (4) Mallam Salihu Lukman (5) Mr. Mike Igini (6) Mallam Tanko Yunusa