You are all aware of the constitutional provision of section 144 sub-section 1a of the 1999 Constitution as amended that states, “(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.”
This sub-section of the 1999 constitution as amended is not only an anti people provision, it also goes against common reasoning. How can the Vice President who is in Acting capacity initiate the process of impeachment alongside other appointees who are ministers of an incapacitated president?
It is a known fact that ministers appointed by a president into the Federal Executive Council will naturally be loyal to the president who appointed them.
In the instant case, how can a minister appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari be loyal to Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo and then be expected to move a motion or be part of the council that will declare the president incapacitated as stipulated in section 144 sub-section 1a above.
As it stands today, Nigeria can not move forward because of this constitutional provision as a clearly incapacitated president Muhammadu Buhari can not be declared unfit to hold office because his appointees are still loyal to him.
The Constitutional Amendment Review Committee exercise must amend section 144 sub-section 1a in tune with our current political reality by ensuring that only the National Assembly is constitutionally mandated to initiate the entire process of declaring the President and Vice President incapacitated on grounds of ill health.
Since democracy is about the people and the people alone, our laws must not protect any individual no matter how highly placed he is. Section 144 sub-section 1a gives some form of protection to an incapacitated president from being declared unfit to hold office through a transparent manner. The ongoing Constitution Review Committee as a matter of urgency must amend this section in order to save our country from a constitutional crisis.