Osinbajo fully in Charge – Lai Mohammed

Barely 24 hours after the Senate criticized the use of the word ‘coordinating’ by President Muhammadu Buha­ri to refer to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo taking charge of governance while he (Buhari) goes on medical vacation abroad, Information Minster Alhaji Lai Mohammed has confirmed that Osinbajo is fully in charge of the country’s affairs as the Acting President.

The Senate had on Tuesday turned down the request by Bu­hari that Osinbajo should oper­ate as Coordinating Vice Presi­dent while he is away in London for medical check-up.

The Upper House insist­ed that Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) was very clear on the status of the Vice President once the Presi­dent transmits to the National Assembly that he would be un­able to perform the functions of his office for any reason.

Consequently, the Senate af­firmed Osinbajo as Acting Pres­ident and overruled Buhari on the matter.

But reacting to the devel­opment on Wednesday after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC), Lai Mohammed de­scribed the uproar in the Senate over Buhari’s letter as a “need­less distraction.”

Buhari’s letter stated: “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 will coordinate the ac­tivities of the government.”

The wording in the letter was remarkably different from his previous letters in similar circumstances in which he ex­pressly stated that Osinbajo would be Acting President in his stead.

The controversy over this second letter started when it was read out in the Senate on Tues­day but Senate President Buko­la Saraki overruled any contra­ry interpretation, declaring that Osinbajo is Acting President and not coordinator of govern­ment activities as insinuated.

Asked by State House corre­spondents to clear the air over the matter on Wednesday, after the Council meeting which Osi­nbajo chaired, Mohammed said that the controversy was unnec­essary.

He stressed that the import of the section of the Constitu­tion which was cited in the let­ter was clear enough to convey the message that “Osinbajo is in charge while Buhari is away.”

According to Mohammed, ”It is a needless controversy; it’s just a distraction. The operative sentence is that ‘in compliance of Section 145, sub-section (1)’. So, any other word used is not relevant.”

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