Medical Trip: Clark chides Buhari over failure to transmit power to VP
The leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has described as unconstitutional, President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to transmit power to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as he travelled to the United Kingdom for his routine medical check-up.
The elder statesman, who spoke yesterday during a press briefing, insisted that President Buhari’s style of leaving the country without handing over to his deputy on the ground that he may not exceed 21 days is an act of illegality.
Clark stated that there was no place in the Constitution where 21 days was mentioned and consequently, President Buhari should not import his own idea into the Constitution.
He said: “What Section 145 says is that President shall transmit to the National Assembly, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, whenever he will be away on medical vacation.
“And in his absence, the Constitution empowers the Vice President to act as the President. And the word ‘shall’ is used there,” Clark stated.
He wondered what the President was afraid of in handing power over to Osinbajo, who proved his competence while he acted as President in 2017, when Buhari was out of the country for over 100 days.
Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.
Chief Clark, who chronicled Buhari’s foreign trips since he assumed office put the number of days he was away on medical vacation at 200 days.
He said: “Buhari left for the UK on June 6, 2016, for his first medical vacation, following reports that he had an ear infection. He returned on June 19, 2016. On January 19, 2017, the President again travelled to the UK on medical leave and returned on March 10, 2017 after spending 51 days.
“Barely 40 days after, Buhari travelled again to the UK for medical attention on May 8, 2017 and remained there till August 19, 2017, spending 104 consecutive days, a record which surpassed that of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
“After attending the 72nd UN General Assembly on September 21, 2017, he travelled from the US to the UK for medical purposes and returned to Abuja on September 25, 2017. On May 8, 2018, four days after arriving in Nigeria, Buhari returned to the UK for medical reasons and he returned on May 11.
The President again travelled to London on a working leave on August 3, 2018 and returned on the 18th, spending a total of 16 days. His handlers said during interviews that “he may just see his doctors briefly during the visit.”
“On April 25, 2019, Buhari arrived in the UK for a 10-day “private visit,” returning on May 5, 2019. Although information was not given on the purpose of the trip.
“Again, on November 2, 2019, he proceeded on a 15-day “private visit” to London, following bilateral talks in Saudi Arabia. He returned to the country on November 17.
“In 2020, the President did not leave the country for a single medical trip, presumably due to travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic but on March 30, 2021, he resumed his medical visits with two-week trip to London.
On June 24, the President postponed another planned medical trip to the UK, which he later went for a check-up after the scheduled education summit and return to the country in the second week of August.”
According to Clark, President Buhari has so far spent over 200 days out of the country on medical vacation. Unfortunately, he is reluctant to hand over power to the Vice President as he prefers foreign hospitals against those in the country he presides over.