Opinion

The vice-presidency is incurable frustration (2)

By Eric Teniola

  • Cont’d from last week Saturday/Sunday edition
So close by then were President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku that VILLA SCOPE, the official news magazine of the state house coordinated by Chief Tunji Oseni, Chris Mammah, Tunde Olusunle, Steve Itugbu, Musa Aduwak, Justin Abuah, Sule Katsina and Lanre Idowu, described the bond between the two men as a STRONG RELATIONSHIP THAT WORKS.

In the second term, things fell apart. Only the two men can explain what really happened. I still believe till today, that if Chief Mrs Stella Abebe Obasanjo (1945-2005) had not died in Puerto Banus in Spain on October 23, 2005 and if Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, the ASIWAJU of Owo, who was and is still a close friend of the two men was not incarcerated at that time, the relationship between President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar could not have degenerated so low, during the second term of President Obasanjo in office.

It is wrong to pretend that the rift between former President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atikiu Abubakar did not affect the smooth running of the government between 2003 and 2007. Of course it did. Careers of many public officers were ruined by the crack. Most did not recover till today. Some were heartbroken, some even died. It was a difficult period for those close to the two of them.

There was the case of Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, former Managing Director of THE DAILY TIMES and a literature guru and friend of the two men. Unaware of the rift, he flew from Lagos and by mistake first visited Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

He was disallowed from seeing President Obasanjo in spite of his scheduled appointment. The complete loyalty of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette and that of the Chief of Staff to the President, Major General Abdullahi Mohammed (81), CFR, saved the central government, inspite of the numerous travels of President Obasanjo at that time.

The carryover of the split has affected President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the rest of us till today. I do not know what the incumbent Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is going through.

But talking generally of the office, it is a dead end job. I was in Ikenne, the hometown of Professor Osinbajo in Ogun state recently and I watched the projects sited in Daura on television, the home town of President Buhari, there is a lot of difference.

THE POWER OF THE PRESIDENCY has transformed Daura while there has not been a change in Ikenne in the last five years. Ikenne is not just the hometown of the legendary Chief Obafemi Awolowo (6 March, 1909 – 9 May 1987), GCFR, it is also the headquarters of Ikenne Local Government in Ogun state.

The 1979 Constitution never gave the Vice President any defined schedule nor the decree No 24 of May 5 1999, which we now know as the 1999 constitution. The only responsibility the Vice President has is in the third schedule of the constitution which makes him the Chairman of the National Economic Council.

In that capacity, the council itself is to “advise the President”. In all other bodies, the constitution bestowed on him ordinary membership or in some cases Vice Chairman. He is not a member of the Nigeria Police Council while he is the Vice Chairman of the Council of State, National Defence Council and National Security Council.

Section 130 of the Constitution states that there shall be for the federation, a President who shall be the head of state, chief executive of the federation and Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation. Section 141 states that there shall be for the federation a Vice President.

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The Constitution never crowned the Vice President as deputy head of State or deputy Chief Executive of the Federation or deputy Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation. The Constitution is ill to the office of the Vice President yet it coronated the President a King and a god.

However cordial they appear to the outside world, there cannot but be conflict between the office of the President and that of the Vice President. It is true that the Decree Number 25 of 1978 which is referred to as the 1979 Constitution was produced by Justice Egbert Udo Udoma (1917-1998) from Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom state. It is also true that the Decree Number 24 of 1999 which we refer to as 1999 Constitution was produced by Justice Nikki Tobi (1940-2016).

The 1979 Constitution was in fact signed into law by General Olusegun Obasanjo on September 21, 1978 as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (enactment decree) of 1978. As for Decree Number 24 which we refer to now as 1999 Constitution, it was promulgated and signed into law on May 4, 1999 by General Abdusalam Alhaji Abubakar, GCFR. One could see that the two Constitutions were engineered and approved by the military.

In the structure of the military command, there is no provision for a deputy. In a military context, the chain of command is the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed within a military unit and between different units.

In more simple terms, the chain of command is the succession of leaders through which command is exercised and executed. And that is why the military transferred all the powers in this country to the Office of the President of Nigeria, who was also named as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

The two Constitutions—1979 and 1999, were not approved by referendum or a plebiscite, unlike in most countries of the world. The fate of the Vice Presidents is equally similar to the fate of deputy governors.

Of all the thirty-six deputy governors elected in 1999, only four of them became governors eventually. They are Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, from Bayelsa state, who became governor and later became President, Alhaji Aliyu Mahmud Shinkafi from Zamfara state, Alhaji Umar Abdullahi Ganduje (72) from Kano state and Alhaji Aliyu Mugatakarda Wamako(68) from Sokoto state, who is at present a Senator.

There are others who later became Senators including Otunba Iyiola Ajani Omisore (64) from Osun state, Chief Chris Stephen Obong Ekpeyong(65) from Akwa Ibom, Chief Enyinnaya Abaribe (65) from Abia state, Mr. Seleh Usman Dambayi (1955-2015) from Taraba and Alhaji Sefiu Adegbenga Kaka (69) from Ogun state.

The rest are today not around politically while some of them have died. They include Bello Tukur (Adamawa), Prince Chinedu Emeka (Anambra), Alhaji A. Mahmoud (Bauchi), O. Ajene (Benue), Alhaji Al A. Jato(Borno), Chief John O. Akpa(Cross Rivers), E. Oko-Isu(Ebonyi), Chief Paul O. Alabi (Ekiti), O. Itanyi (Enugu), Barrister Joshua M. Lidani(Gombe), Engr. Udeagu (Imo), Ibrahim S. Kwatalo(Jigawa), Engr. Stephen R. Shekari(Kaduna), Alhaji T.A. Jikamsi(Katsina), Alhaji A.A. Argungu(Kebbi), Patrick Adaba(Kogi), Deacon (Chief), S.A. Sayami(Kwara), Senator K. Bucknor(Lagos), Onje Gye-Wado(Nassarawa), Barrister Afolabi Iyantan (Ondo), Barrister Iyiola Oladokun(Oyo), Chief Michael Bot-Mbang(Plateau), Sir G.G. Toby(Rivers) and Alhaji A.S. Bagare(Yobe).

To be continued next edition

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