Coordinating or acting: What does it matter

The letter transmitted to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari on the eve of his departure to the UK for medical treatment was kind of unusual.

This time around, it had the word, ‘coordinating’. Every other wordings or phraseology was perfect. But that word coordinating bristled already frayed nerves.

What was the President trying to say. Was the word coordinating hinting that the Vice President may not have executive powers in his absence and as expected the controversy simmered on along already entrenched lines. Some people claimed that the word was meaningless and that the President had quoted the relevant portions of the constitution in his letter and as such there was no problem. The other divide begged to differ. Their argument was simple, the President still has Executive powers.

For me this is dangerous as we all know that governance abhors ambiguity and much more a vacuum. The insertion of that word was mischevious as it possibly could throw up a lacuna especially where the Vice President in his capacity as coordinating or acting president decides to for example go to war or try to veto something into law. You will now see a road block rightfully thrown up by people who would want a judicial interpretation of the word.

This is the reason some of us remain frustrated in this country. Why for heaven’s sake do we do these things. Why insert that word thereby throwing us into needless controversy. This is not the first time the President was either going on vacation or on medical leave and each time he went, he caused to be transmitted to the National Assembly his letter passing over Executive Powers to the Vice President who in turn handled power responsibly and to the admiration of the public. When the President came back, he dutifully handed over powers back to the legitimate owners.

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So you can begin to see my amusement as to the need or otherwise of the clause. Let us believe that it was innocently inserted there as a way of explaining the very important part of executive governance which involves coordinating all government agencies, the implementation of policies as initiated by them and passed through the National Assembly and also the execution of rulings by the judiciary.

In this sense, just may be the phrase makes sense especially if you go down to the portion of the constitution quoted which supports and backs the acting president in that capacity.

Prof Osinbajo and Mr. Buhari have shown tremendous maturity in the handling of this matter. The President has refused to listen to the doomsday prophets, and continued to show strong support and encouragement to his able deputy, who in turn has continued to be subordinated to his Boss, not showing any form of disloyalty while handling his duties with utmost respect, both to the constitution and also to his Boss who legitimately owns the mandate.

Not for the Vice President the usual scheming and blood cuddling undercurrents aimed at freezing out the President and usurping the powers. Not for him, the usual intrigues and scheming to transmute from acting to permanent which would throw in seeming tension into the system, these two leaders have beautifully shown that our democracy has come of age thereby throwing shame to the detractors.

I commend them, but the question still remains, ‘can the coordinating President in acting capacity, declare a war?

I wait to see.








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