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|Nigeria Parliament Names Jonathan Acting President by lizfab(f): 5:05pm On Feb 09, 2010|
Nigeria’s national assembly on Tuesday voted to declare Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-president, the country’s acting ruler, in a move that appeared to sideline Umaru Yar’Adua, the ailing leader.
But the latest twist in a power struggle brought on by the president’s 11-week stay in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment does not end the uncertainty that has engulfed sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest energy producer.
The motion drafted by the senate and passed by both houses states that Mr Jonathan “shall henceforth discharge the functions of the office of the president, commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the federation”.
However, the motion seems to depart from the constitution’s provision for dealing with a presidential absence. This requires Mr Yar’Adua, who suffers from a heart condition and a chronic kidney problem, to write to the national assembly if he intends temporarily to transfer powers to his deputy on health grounds.
Mr Yar’Adua has declined to do so – a reluctance that many blame on an inner circle determined not to relinquish power even temporarily.
Consequently, the national assembly’s motion may have no legal force. “They are not backed by the constitution,” said Rotimi Akeredolu, president of the Nigerian Bar Association, which has petitioned the courts to force a handover of interim powers. “At this point in our democracy we should try as much as possible to stick to procedure.”
Under the constitution, only the cabinet has the power to declare Mr Yar’Adua incapacitated. It has so far refused even to send a medical team to assess the president’s health. Under these circumstances, it is unclear how forcefully Mr Jonathan will be willing govern.
David Mark, the senate president, said that a brief radio interview Mr Yar’Adua gave to the BBC last month – the only time he has been heard since his departure from Nigeria on November 23 – served as “irrefutable proof that he is on medical vacation”.
Other political insiders suggested the national assembly’s move was a political compromise.
The disparate strands of the Nigerian elite – from former heads of state to the influential governors of the federation’s 36 states – have in recent days coalesced in their demands for Mr Jonathan to assume full powers.
“It will definitely resolve the present constitutional crisis or vacuum in leadership,” Bukola Saraki, governor of Kwara state and chair of the governor’s forum, told the Financial Times. “As to legal questions, it is the doctrine of necessity. It’s something that we had to do to get out of this logjam.”
The senators stressed that Mr Yar’Adua could resume his office if he wrote to the national assembly informing lawmakers that he was fit enough to do so.
Although he has been cautious not to be seen to be staging a power-grab, Mr Jonathan has already been acting as de facto president, chairing cabinet meetings and ordering troops to quell a recent outbreak of ethnic violence in the central city of Jos.
It is unclear whether Mr Jonathan will now be officially sworn in as president, although some political insiders suggested he would not.
|Re: Nigeria Parliament Names Jonathan Acting President by lizfab(f): 5:06pm On Feb 09, 2010|
|Re: Nigeria Parliament Names Jonathan Acting President by scottN(m): 5:15pm On Feb 09, 2010|
I thot they 1ted to amend the constitution to allow 4 election of two VPs so that the President (or his cartel) could choose whom he could hand over in eventualities like this!
|Re: Nigeria Parliament Names Jonathan Acting President by Ibime(m): 5:22pm On Feb 09, 2010|
Parliament does not have the right to name Jonathan as President without first sending a medical team to assess Yaraduas condition.
The constitution makes this very clear.
Parliament is thus in violation of the constitution.
This is an illegal resolution to a constitutional problem, but prolly the best solution for all parties involved. . . however, our institutions need to start following rule of law in this country.
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