It was disheartening to know that Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Minister of Justice & Attorney General of Nigeria claimed that the legislature cannot summon President-General Buhari with regards to the murderous insecurity that has led to the continuing killing of Nigerians. In his words, “So, by summoning the President on national security operational matters, the House of Representative operated outside constitutional bounds…As the Commander-in-Chief, the President has exclusivity on security and has confidentiality over security…These powers and rights he does not share”
That brings to mind several pertinent questions. The Nigerian constitution states that the primary aim of government is to provide security and welfare to the people. To fail in one of these is to fail in both.
As Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, MBuhari owes us explanations on the ongoing insecurity which has led to countless massacres and mass burials. If MBuhari cannot be summoned by the House of Reps and he cannot directly explain to Nigerians by any other means suitable, who then can summon MBuhari? The Minister should kindly tell us.
In 2012 the House of Representatives summoned former President Goodluck tò explain the same subject of insecurity in Nigeria. Babatunde Fashola who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, categorically said in June 2012, that it was lawful that the House could summon the President. In his words, “the summons by lawmakers should be seen as an opportunity for public officers to defend their actions”.
Now that Fashola is Minister of Works under MBuhari, he should equally open his mouth and speak truth to power.
In another vein, Festus Keyamo, SAN, the current Minister of State for Labour and Employment, also confirmed in 2012, that it was appropriate that the HOR summoned Goodluck Jonathan. Keyamo went further to state that Section 89 (1)(C) of the 1999 Constitution (amended) empowers the national assembly to summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other things in his possession or under his control.
He buttressed it further that “In this case, the subject matter of the inquiry relates to the peace, order and good government of the country which is the primary responsibility of the National Assembly by section 4(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Therefore, the House of Representatives have acted purely within the scope of its powers in inviting the president to appear before it”. It is a serious matter when three SANs in government conflict each other on constitutional matters such as this. Will Keyamo and Fashola be silent now that they are serving under MBuhari? Will their loyalty to the country be subjected to loyalty to one man?
The truth which they are not talking about, is that MBuhari is being unduly shielded from Nigerians. They all know that MBuhari cannot coherently answer questions for 5 minutes without losing track. Sadly so. Remember how his Assistant on media and publìcity, Shehu Garba, recently signaled to the press to end an interview with MBuhari? He was apparently shielding the mental state of the President. A sick President is a sick country.
At this point, Nigerians must take the recent challenge by Obiageli Ezekwesili very seriously. She suggested that we need to set up a medical investigative panel to ascertain the mental and physical conditions of MBuhari. The time has come for this action to be taken. Nigeria is presently not being governed. Those that shield the President are benefitting hugely from the (mis)fortunes and bloodletting in Nigeria.
We must also recall that the Senate had previously requested that the President should sack the service chiefs. Without a direct word of response from MBuhari, the same Garba quickly jumped out to say that the President cannot be cajoled into removing the Service Chiefs because it is his prerogative decision to make.
In a situation where the mental state of the President is questionable, it becomes a collective error to further saddle him with the responsibility to continue as President. To worsen matters, we have also allowed him to simultaneously operate as the Minister of Petroleum which is the economic engine room of the country.
The leakages in that Ministry is already crippling Nigeria as they set to buy petroleum products from Niger Republic as our refineries rest in pieces.
In a situation like this, it will be very polite that Nigerians should urgently demand, with a loud voice, for the resignation of Muhammadu Buhari. We should go further, in this period of constitutional amendment, to remove from the President, the power to appoint the Service Chiefs, INEC Chairman, Chief of Army staff and the Inspector General of Police. Such privileges promote impunity. We have swallowed enough!
Nigerians must wake up. It is our country. It is not a private farm belonging to some individuals.
It will be very unfair of each and everyone of us to bequeath today’s Nigeria to our children and future generations. We dare not!
Frederick Odorige is the Global Coordinator,
Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria, GCSDN.