As the Senate resumes sitting today two letters from ailing President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to kick-start a week long debate lined with other issues including the 2017 Appropriation Bill, many economic bills at different stages of reading and passage.
Buhari’s letters deal with a request for the extension of his vacation in London and the nomination of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Mum was the word among senators approached by Thisage to comment on what the position of the Upper House would be on Buhari’s request for extension of his vacation.
But investigation shows that the Senate would pass the request without a fuss.
The Senate President himself, Bukola Saraki had foreclosed any debate with his certification of Buhari as hale and hearty after his recent London visit to see Buhari. Saraki is a medical doctor by training.
Still, lingering issues and questions clouding a prolonged vacation by Buhari are lurking in the corner. They deal with how long should Buhari be allowed to remain out of office?
Should his request be granted without a set date, turning him into a president that rules from outside by proxy?
On what basis is Buhari seeking an extension of his vacation if the presidency and his visitors had claimed that he is hale and hearty?
Are we heading to a situation when the Constitution would have to become the final arbiter?
In Chapter VI, Section 144, the Constitution says:
(1) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office, if –
(a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the President or Vice-President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and
(b) The declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the President or Vice-President is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation.