By Teddy Nwanunobi
Abuja (Sundiata Post) — Ailing President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, stirred up controversy on the floor of the Senate, as his letter to the Red Chamber failed to address the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, as the “Acting President”.
Buhari, before now, had won for himself praises for promptly handing over power before embarking on each trip.
This time, he said that his stay in the United Kingdom would be determined by his doctors.
It would be recalled that Buhari left the shores of Nigeria on Sunday night, shortly after receiving the 82 Chibok girls that were released in a swap deal by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, on Saturday.
Consequently, the ailing President had also referred to Osinbajo as the Acting President.
But while notifying the senators of his intention to travel to London for follow up medical leave, Buhari said Osinbajo will “coordinate” the nation’s affairs, while he is abroad for medical treatment.
The letter, which Buhari sent to the Senate, however raised questions Osinbajo’s powers, after he failed to address him as the “Acting President”.
“In compliance with Section 145(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow-up with my doctors in London. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.
“While I am away, the Vice President (Osinbajo) will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration,” the letter read.
Mao Ohabunwa (PDP Abia North), however, questioned the latest correspondence to the Senate, which was read by the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Ohabunwa, who particularly argued that Osinbajo should have been designated “acting president”, noted that it was not proper to name the Vice President “coordinator” of the nation’s affairs.
“To me, the letter is not explicit enough hence ambiguous,” he added.
The Senate Majority Leader, Ahmad Lawan, quickly countered that the letter mentioned Section 145(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
Lawan, therefore, pointed out that there was no need to write on the letter that the Vice President of the country would serve as the Acting President, adding that the provisions of the Constitution have, by default, already conferred that status on Osinbajo by the virtue of the letter being sent and read in both chambers of the National Assembly.
The Section states: “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”.
Ohabunwa was, however, ruled out of order by Saraki.