The incidence of Mr. President’s 10–day medical tourism presents an opportunity for the opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to criticize the President’s compliance or none of the provisions of s. 145 of the 1999 Constitution, but before it could do that is PDP’s house in order?
The president’s health has become public issue again, just as the late president Yar’ Adua’s did. Mr. President’s state of health was an issue during the 2015 election campaigns. And why not, if I may say so. He is human, but when he opts for public office his health also becomes an issue of public discourse and scrutiny. What his advisers failed to do was to ask him to tow the line of Senator John Mcain when as US Presidential candidate in 2008, faced similar criticism and scrutiny. He prevailed over his opponents by laying bare to the public all medical data and state of his health.
Without trying to be the devil’s advocate the president could sneak out of office for up to 21 days without s. 145 notification to the National Assembly leaders before his where about could be sought officially. A close look at s. 145 of 1999 Constitution reveals that only notices to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives are required. Nothing compels him to disclose what he intends to do and where.
Even if PDP wants to make a case of this scenario the impact would be insignificant as two members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the party had decamped to the All Progressive Congress (APC) feigning divisions in the party.
Hon. Tony Nwoye is a representative from Anambra while Hon. Emmanuel Udende is from Benue both claimed that the exception is s. 68 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution apply to them since they do not want to belong to any of the 3 known factions led by Senator Ibrahim Mantu; Senator Ali Modu Sheriff or Gov. Ahmmed Makarfi. It is interesting, even though lame when the minority leader Hon. Leo Ogor argued that they should vacate their seats. That is the depth of PDP’s crisis. The crisis has further worsened the lopsided legislative equation at the House of Representatives now put at 215 APC members against 138 PDP legislators.
I recall saying in another discourse concerning PDP’s failure to retain power in 2015 general election that it was the political tension at the executive and the legislature that corroded the relationships Gov. Rotimi Amechi erstwhile governor of Rivers State had with the Federal government aka “Abuja”, governor’s forum, the State judiciary and the National Judicial Council. What followed the sour relationships are now history. However, one of the aftermaths of the political tug-of-war episode was defection upon defection including Amaechi.
Failure to conduct a successful PDP National Congress was the straw that broke the camel’s back. S. 223 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides “The Constitution and rules of a political party shall: (a) provide for the periodical election on a democratic basis of the principal officers and members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party; and (b) ensure that the members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party reflect the federal character of Nigeria.
And s. 224 which is a common ground for all political parties makes Chapter II of the Constitution mandatory. Chapter II provides for fundamental objectives and directive principles of State policy. The implication for the political parties is that whatever colour or creed of the party, whether in power or in opposition it owes the electorates, indeed the people the obligation to implement that chapter.
Now that the PDP Board of Trustees is standing in to rescue the crisis – ridden party only committed members can succeed in the effort, because it was selfish interests that split the party to three in the first place.
The BOT is established by Part IX (1) of the PDP Constitution 2014; while its functions were provided by its s. 5 thus:
(a) “Ensure highest standards of morality in all the activities of the party by acting as the conscience of the party, with power to call to order any officer of the party whose conduct falls below the norms;
(b) Ensure high morale of members of the party and that the party enjoys a good image before the Nigeria populace and is in good political health.
(c) Harmonize, coordinate, revive and advise on policies, programmes and activities of the party at the national level;” Relevant at this time is also (e) “Be vested with the assets of the party and shall serve as custodians of such assets. (f) Mediate in disputes between the executive and legislative arms of government (g) Offer advice on party matters to the National Executive Committee of the party”.
Therefore the move by BOT is appropriate. Among Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, Governor Makarfi and Senator Ibrahim Mantu, the BOT has installed Governor Ahmmed Makarfi as interim national executive leader probably on the strength of an established legal authority of Emeka v. Okadigbo which decided that it is the national executive of a party that determines its candidates
Iyke Ozemena is Attorney in Ikechukwu O. Odoemelam & Co., Corporate Attorneys/Consultants