That call for Buhari’s resignation
If I refuse to listen to the voice of fear, Would the voice of courage whisper in my ear? -Jana Stanfield, Brave Faith.
Politicians come and go and leaders have their glorified tenures within which they operate unhindered provided they stick to the dictates of the law. The national constitution remains static as the supreme law guiding our existence. The all-embracing Nigerian policies are derived from constitutional provisions and must be respected by all. The constitution dictates guided operations of the central executive, the legislature and judiciary in pursuance of rule of law and good governance.
Our present constitution is built on the political platform of federal structure with solid framework for the existence of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The constitution of many countries like Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Argentina and United States of America, just to mention a few, are operated on similar federal system of government. And separation of powers is sacrosanct.
It is an accepted fact that some political powers exercised by the president may infringe on the authority of the congress. This enables the president to attend the opening session of the congress to present realistic report on the state of the nation. Furthermore, the president shares in the powers of the legislature by authorising or appending signature to bills. Bills passed by the legislature are subject to the president’s approval before they are deemed to become national laws. The president also has the power of veto over some pressing national issues as listed in the exclusive list. The congress can ratify such presidential decisions with both houses in sessions and having secured overwhelming support. Under the constitution, the president under “exceptional cases’ may exercise the legislative power by decrees albeit, with both procedural and substantive rules. There are many interconnected factors that are legally entwined in the federal system of government for the common good of citizens and the nation.
In view of the above, it is unnecessary for any group of placard-carrying crowd or protesters, as recently seen in Abuja, to request for the resignation of our president who is currently away abroad on medical grounds.
In the future, such demonstrations may send wrong signals to peace-loving Nigerians and the international community that the national congress is inept and incapable of solving our national problems. Under the prevailing constitution, the legislature has the power to resolve our pressing problems more so that we have a vibrant and competent Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, already vested with unencumbered legal powers of heading the government on behalf of the president.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that the Abuja placard-carrying protesters have the legitimate right which must be respected. However, such rights under the Nigerian law must not be pushed to the extreme of unruly conduct that can lead to break-down of law and order.
The unfortunate Abuja demonstration by some of our supposedly leaders of tomorrow who are not properly informed of the systemic workings of our democratic system is most unfortunate. Suffice it to say that the constitution may not be entirely perfect and may present some negligible loopholes. However, no constitution of any nation in the world has been reported as entirely perfect; not only in advanced nations practicing the federal system of government.
Political experts explain that democracy of federalism structure is an ideal system of government particularly, in emerging nations where citizens and states are multi-tribal, multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-linguists.
John F. Kennedy once declared that the constitution of the United States of America does not make the president and congress rivals for power but partners for progress. In reality, there is need for slight conflicts of interest because the congress is made up of members from different political parties with diverse agendas in pursuance of common good governance. He stated further that there must be occasional conflicts of interest since the constitution gives the congress and the president different powers. This makes it too obvious that jealousy among both power-players must suffice to maintain the level playing ground. The constitution gives the congress powers to deliberate and make laws, and the same constitution gives the president power to ‘recommend’ and ‘Veto’ legislations from the congress.
There are many diverse viewpoints on this subject based on past experiences of many countries that are practicing federal system of government. The International Association of Centers for Federal Studies hosted a symposium on the federal system of government in which many experts worldwide participated. Some notable Nigerians like Adigun Agbaje (from University of Ibadan) and Henry Alapiki (from University of Port Harcourt) participated fully and agreed with the postulation that federal system of government remains the best for Nigeria.
Similarly, some advanced countries of the world are yet to overcome various conflicts of interest from the devolution of power between the federating units and sharing of power between their presidents and legislatures.
Population of Argentina is about 37.5 million. She got her independence from Spain in 1816. The country (with her capital Buenos Aires and 23 provinces) adopted the federal system of government far back in 1835. The country suffered serious political instability and many coups d’états for almost 20 years.
The United States of America is the father of all democratic systems in the world. The nation has gone through some constitutional crises that are yet to be resolved. However, the country still operates the best democratic system of government in the world. The legislature and judiciary commonly work for the common good of citizens and the nation.
The 14th amendment to the USA constitution has been on the table since 1791 and yet to be fully resolved. This amendment includes the right to bear arms by citizens. In this same amendment, the clause exists that no state shall deprive any person of his/her life, liberty of existence as expressed in the constitution without the due process of the law. The clause also affirms that entire citizens shall not be denied equal protection of the law. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were added to the USA constitution between 1865 and 1870.
Considering all the above, there is no reason for anybody or person to carry placards and go about inciting people to cause disorderly conduct because of the president’s absence.
As indicated in one of my earlier articles, President Roosevelt of USA was incapacitated by stroke for 17 years and his wife, Eleanor, was the de-facto president throughout the afore-mentioned period. Americans did not go war because of the president’s ill-health nor disparaged national decisions based on his wife’s influence. Nigerians must be tolerant enough to allow President Buhari recuperate while we all prayerfully await his return.