Goodluck Jonathan as President: Practicality -v- Illegality?

Jonathan’s confirmation as VP will hopefully put an end to the controversy (at least temporarily), and will give the leadership some semblance of order and due process. While we have arrived at a PRACTICAL solution, I am not sure that the manner and circumstances in which Jonathan was appointed acting VP was LEGAL.

There are numerous mechanisms for appointing the VP to acting President including:

a) Impeachment of the President
b) TEMPORARY incapacitation of the President
c) PERMANENT incapacitation of the President

The National Assembly did not do any of the 3 things above. Yar’Adua was not impeached or declared incapacitated on a temporary or permanent basis.

The basis for Jonathan to TEMPORARILY act as the President arises ONLY IF Yar’Adua HIMSELF informs the President of the Senate (David Mark) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Dimeji Bankole) that he is leaving the country on vacation or is unable to perform the functions of his office. Yar’Adua did not do that as per section 145 of the constituton:

“145. 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.”

For Yar’Adua to be PERMANENTLY replaced, two overlapping actions are required. Firstly, two-thirds of the Federal Executive Council must pass a resolution declaring that Yar’Adua is unfit to discharge his functions; AND

The declaration then has to be verified by a medical panel of 5 doctors (including Yar’Adua’s own doctor), confirming that the President is PERMANENTLY incapable of discharging his functions.

I suspect that this is not the end of this saga, and that we will be hearing more about it from Yar’Adua supporters. Don’t be surprised if this ends up in court.


8 responses

  1. […] Jonathan to act in Yar'Adua's place, I am not sure that Jonathan was LEGALLY appointed.…-v-illegality/ Expect some topsy turvy rides from Yar'Adua supporters who might hook on the inherent illegality […]

  2. I think you’re contraditing yourself by your statement. If Yaradua is not temporarily incarpacted, what is he doing in Saudi for months now? Don’t you think there is a need for somebody to be in charge of the country in the absence of the president? We’re our problems..

  3. […] a political necessity, it was not explicitly permitted by the Nigerian Constitution.  Max Siollun summed up the predicament as follows: Jonathan’s confirmation as VP will hopefully put an end to the […]

    It will be a disaster if all the Acting President Jonathan does is keeping the seat warm. Mr. Jonathan’s ascension to the top job is unique and his term in office is limited. But he has a great opportunity to make the most of the circumstances he finds himself in. He has only 18 months at best to put his stamp on Nigeria which does not give him anytime for honey moon or time to spare. He must be bold.

    He cannot afford to spend time trying to win friends or to build a following. He just has to do it as the Nike commercial exhorts:

    1. Nigeria calls to mind the old concept of the Dark Continent. The country is perpetually in the dark. No Power. Mr. Jonathan has 18 months to generate upwards of 6,000 of energy to get the country to the starting line of development.
    2. Corruption fight was started under Obasanjo but soon stumbled and failed. He needs to restore the fire. Possibly to bring back Ribadu and give him a new charter. If not Ribadu then somebody just like him a fire brand to sweep up the corrupt officials found in almost all corridors of power in Abuja
    3. Free and Fair Election. The election that brought Mr. Jonathan and Yar’ Adua to power was very flawed even by Nigeria’s standard. Mr. Goodluck Jonathan has the good luck that he cannot succeed himself because of the constitution of the party he belongs to. Given that he would not have self interest in the outcome, it would behoove him to hand to Nigeria an election to be proud of. If he does this, his foot prints on the sands of time would be permanent.
    4. Roads. You cannot get there from here is a common expression in Nigeria. The roads are that bad. Some State Governors are doing some thing about State Roads but the Federal roads are a different story. Given the economic importance of roads Mr. Jonathan must lay a foundation for improving the conditions of Nigerian roads.

    18 months is not enough time to tackle all the multitude of problems facing Nigeria, but it is enough time to start something. If Mr. Jonathan were to restrict his attention to generating more power, eradication of corruption, rebuilding federal roads and conducting a free and fair election, and if he shows improvements in all of these areas, he would have placed himself in a good position to come back and contest for presidency when next it is the South’s turn in his party.

    Or he may allow the fun memories of his short term to prevail. The choice would his.

    Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
    Boston Massachusetts
    February 13, 2010

  5. Oluwole, you misunderstood the post. No one is saying Yar’Adua is not (at least temporarily) incapacitated. The post above merely concerns the PROCEDURE whereby the VP was made acting President. It was murky and probably was not in accordance with the constitution.

  6. […] kuwa na umuhimu wa siasa, haikuwa imeruhusiwa moja kwa moja na Katiba ya Naijeria. Max Siollum alijumuisha hali hiyo mbaya kama ifuatavyo: Kuthibitishwa kwa Jonathani kama Makamu wa Rais kunaweza kumaliza […]

  7. Nigeria has dirty politics, first why is it that

  8. Goodluck Nigeria | Reply

    Where is yaradua? 2.Why is it that the Nation cannot know the state of the President Yaradua Health, Why is it that yaradua cannot be seen? Nigeria politics dirty

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