Again, Ailing Nigerian President Travels For Medical Reasons Without Transmitting Power To VP

The last time Mr Buhari handed over to his deputy while embarking on personal (medical) trips was in 2018.

NIGERIA’S ailing President, Muhammadu Buhari, is set to travel out of the country for about two weeks, largely for personal health treatment, but has refused to transfer power to his deputy on an interim basis as constitutionally expected.

Mr Buhari’s office announced Tuesday that the president will depart Nigeria for Kenya on a three-day official visit after which he will “proceed to London for routine medical checks that will last for a maximum of two weeks.”

The Nigerian constitution provides that when the president is going on vacation or is unable to discharge the functions of his office, he will notify the National Assembly and temporarily transfer power to his deputy.

“WHENEVER the President is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, he SHALL transmit a written declaration to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the house of representatives to that effect, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice-President shall perform the functions of the President as Acting President,” Section 145(1)(2) of the Nigerian Constitution states.

In its statement on Tuesday, the president’s office did not provide details of the ‘medical checks’ Mr Buhari will undergo in London or whether or not it will affect the discharge of his duties.

The president’s spokespersons, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina, did not answer or return calls seeking clarifications on the matter.

The ‘Good Old Days’

In the early period of the Buhari administration, the president used to notify the National Assembly of such medical trips and temporarily hand over power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo.

For example, Mr Buhari in June 2016 wrote to the National Assembly, notifying them of a 10-day medical trip to the UK, and temporarily transferring power to Mr Osinbajo. That was the second time such would be done in about a year after Mr Buhari assumed office.

How Things Changed

The last time Mr Buhari handed over to his deputy while embarking on personal (medical) trips was in 2018.

Although the president has embarked on many such trips since then, he has avoided formally notifying lawmakers and transferring power to Mr Osinbajo.

Presidential aides have in the past dismissed public concerns on the matter; saying the president can work from anywhere in the world.

However, sources in the presidency told PREMIUM TIMES that the major reason Mr Buhari has refused to do so since 2018 is because of a particular action Mr Osinbajo took while he was acting president in August 2018.

Daura’s Sack

On August 7, 2018, PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Osinbajo, who was the then-acting president, terminated the appointment of the former Director-General, State Security Service, Lawal Daura.

Mr Daura, a close ally to the president, was sacked for ordering SSS officials to illegally invade the National Assembly without notifying or seeking permission from the acting president.

Many Nigerians hailed Mr Osinbajo for the action.

Although Mr Osinbajo’s office said then that the action was taken after the acting president consulted with Mr Buhari, close aides to the president told this newspaper that was not the case.

The president is very angry and has vowed never to temporarily cede power to Osinbajo again, one aide said then.

Since the 2018 incident, Mr Buhari has continued to execute presidential functions, including when abroad for medical treatment. PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Buhari, in 2019, signed a bill into law while in the UK for medical treatment.

The president’s latest medical sojourn will take a ‘maximum of two weeks,’ his office said on Tuesday.