Buhari: The #AbsenteePresident of Nigeria; What Says the Constitution?– Ishola Adebayo

July 21, 2017

President Buhari’s health and his inability to steer the ship of Nigeria has increasingly overshadowed political discourse on different fora, particularly in the last four months because of the lack of update on his wellbeing.

It would be recalled that President Buhari was last seen in a photocall with 82 of the chibok girls just before he left for London on May 7, 2017.

You will recall that in 2009, former President Yar’Adua was away from the country for 3 months due to ill-health without disclosing the state of his health. We are faced with similar circumstances again.

As expected, citizens have gone on several social media channels to engage President Buhari and his cabinets on the status of his health which they aptly tagged #AbsenteePresident and already raised some pertinent conversations on what the constitutions says in this situation.

Nigeria's 1999 constitution talks about the health of the office of the president, his incapacity in office, and other relevant requirement on the subject matter.

This is explained in Chapter VI, Section 144. Which 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.

(3) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.

(4) The medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, and shall comprise five medical practitioners in Nigeria:-

(a) one of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office concerned; and

(b) four other medical practitioners who have, in the opinion of the President of the Senate, attained a high degree of eminence in the field of medicine relative to the nature of the examination to be conducted in accordance with the foregoing provisions.

(5) In this section, the reference to "executive council of the Federation" is a reference to the body of Ministers of the Government of the Federation, howsoever called, established by the President and charged with such responsibilities for the functions of government as the President may direct.

In Turkey, Cemal Gürsel's presidency was terminated by the TBMM (Turkish Grand National Assembly) in accordance with the Constitution on March 28, 1966.

Hopefully, FEC will do the needful if Buhari stays longer in vacation than necessary.