FACTS AND LIES OF A DYING PRESIDENT: Jonathan’s ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ And Buhari’s Shocking Health Revelation

By Ikenga Chronicles February 9, 2017

FACTS AND LIES OF A DYING PRESIDENT: Jonathan’s ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ And Buhari’s Shocking Health Revelation

Today, Thursday, February 9, 2017 appears to be fortuitous in many more ways than one. Coincidentally, on this day, the country is contending with the health concerns of its number one citizen, President Muhammadu Buhari just as it did over half a decade ago.

Indeed, this day, exactly seven years ago, on February 9, 2010, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, was proclaimed acting President of Nigeria on the orders of Nigeria’s National Assembly using the ‘doctrine of necessity.’

He succeeded President Umar Musa Yar’Adua who had been hospitalised at a Saudi Arabia hospital, and absent from presidential duties, for over two months beginning November 23, 2009.

Years after, many believe that invocation of the ‘doctrine of necessity’, as exercised by the then National Assembly, saved the country a major constitutional crisis that would have shaken the very foundations of the fragile federation.

The crisis itself had been stirred by late President Yar’Adua who, working with some members of his kitchen cabinet, decided to steal out of the country without formally transmitting authority and power to his deputy, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.

The reasons for his inaction or action remain largely a matter of conjecture though there were widely held speculations at the time that a certain ‘cabal’ within the presidency did not want a power shift as it was the turn of the ‘north’ to call the shots at the centre.

The first push towards resolving the administrative mess created by Yar’Adua began in December 2009 when the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) alerted the nation on the dangers inherent in the late President not formally ceding powers to his deputy.

This was followed by a Supreme Court ruling on January 22, 2010 directing the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to, within fourteen days, resolve on whether the ailing President was ‘incapable of discharging the functions of his office’. The ruling also ordered that FEC should hear testimony of five doctors, one of whom should be Yar’Adua’s personal physician.

The intrigues that followed, coupled with massive call by civil society organizations for immediate resolution of the crisis, pushed the National Assembly to controversially invoke the ‘doctrine of necessity’ on February 9, 2010, thus effectively installing Goodluck Jonathan as acting President of the country.

On February 24, 2010, Yar’Adua stole back into the country under the cover of darkness and returned to Aso Rock, the seat of power. It remained very obvious, with all the secrecy that attained his journey back from Saudi Arabia, that he was unfit to continue. He died on May 5, 2010.

It is reassuring that incumbent President Buhari, in spite of his health challenges, has been proclaimed hale and hearty and not even on admission in any hospital. To his credit also is the fact that, in his absence, no
constitutional gaps has been left unattended to as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is rightfully in charge.

Be that as it may, concerns still mount over inherent gaps in the present constitution that fail to address methods of dealing with the vexed issue of ‘power shift’ by political parties in the event that their choice candidates become incapacitated.

The most recent of the CONFAB reports is said to have attempted a solution by recommending that political parties should, within 90 days of such incidents, seek to fill the gaps by calling for elections in which the deputy of the choice candidate will not be allowed to contest.

Sadly, the proposal remains a paper work, and with the current administration not willing to deal with the CONFAB report, Nigerians can only hope and pray that the ‘doctrine of necessity’ remains an archival material, never to be dusted up for fresh application.

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