Controversies as Tinubu’s unknown whereabouts ignite political debate

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But for a last minute change of plans, both President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima would have travelled out of the country at the same time, thereby leaving the Aso Rock seat of power.

Prior to Shettima’s planned trip to the United States of America, there have been concerns over Tinubu’s whereabouts one week after his official trip to Saudi Arabia for the special World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting.

Bellnews observed that the president is yet to return to Nigeria after the WEF meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which ended on April 29, 2024.

Before the WEF summit, Tinubu embarked on an official trip to the Netherlands on the invitation of the country’s Prime Minister, Mark Rutte on April 23, 2024.

While in the country, President Tinubu engaged in high-level discussions with the Prime Minister, as well as held separate meetings with His Royal Majesty, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Kingdom.

While Nigerians are still grappling with Tinubu’s absence from the country, Vice President Kashim Shettima was scheduled to jet out to Dallas, United States of America, where he would have represented the president at the 2024 US-Africa Business Summit hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa.

Shettima was expected to join other political and business leaders across Africa, the US and beyond for the summit featuring high-level dialogues, networking business sessions and the plenary, all scheduled for the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.

But in a last minute move, the Vice President cancelled the planned trip, citing a faulty aircraft.

Tinubu missing, Nigeria without president – Adeyanju

Popular rights activist and lawyer, Deji Adeyanju said Tinubu is missing, stressing that the Nigerian Government is irresponsible following Tinubu absence and Shettima’s planned absence from the country.

Speaking with BELLNEWS, Adeyanju accused Tinubu and Shettima of taking Nigerians for granted.

He said: “Even if you ask the Presidency, they don’t know where the president is, and I have come to the conclusion that the president of Nigeria is missing. Whether or not anybody likes it, this government is irresponsible and does not believe in accountability.

“Can you imagine the president of America disappearing for one week or the British Prime Minister, or the Prime Minister of Canada or the French President? Things like this can only happen in a Banana Republic.

“Even George Orwell’s Animal Farm will do better because when the king of the jungle goes missing, all kinds of things start happening. It’s safe to say that the country is without a captain; unfortunately, there is nobody to pinpoint in this government that is capable of administering.

“The last we heard about the missing president is that his jet malfunctioned, and since then he has not been seen or sighted by anyone. Even if the president is undergoing medical tourism, Nigerians deserve to know.

The president of a country can’t just disappear into thin air without any explanation. President Tinubu is taking Nigerians for granted, even if he does not rate Nigerians, he should rate the millions of people that voted for him. There can be no justification whatsoever for this kind of rude behaviour.”

National Assembly silent over Tinubu’s absence

Adeyanju berated the National Assembly over its inability to perform its statutory function of checks and balances, hence the vacuum created in government.

The constitutional lawyer lamented that the National Assembly has been reduced to a department in the Office of the President’s Chief of Staff.

He said: “There is no National Assembly, one that is headed by Akpabio is that a National Assembly? That is just a department in the Villa, a department in the office of the Chief of Staff. The National Assembly has been reduced to a department in the Office of the Chief of Staff. That is why the president does not rate them. A National Assembly that says anything the president wants could serve as a check and balance?

“The President should have handed over to his Vice when he knew that he was going to disappear, but that was not done, and the so-called Vice was about to leave the country; we don’t even know who is in charge of the country; that’s why I said Nigeria is currently without a captain.

“Things have never been this bad in the area of checks and balances, and I’m of the view that we don’t have a legislature in the country. What we have is a department of the presidency pretending to be the legislature, which is most unfortunate.”

Vacuum in government

Similarly, another rights activist lawyer, Madubuachi Idam said there would have been a constitutional anomaly and impunity if Shettima had travelled out of the country.

Speaking with BELLNEWS, Idam said: “It’s an abdication of duties by the president and the Vice president to travel out at the same time.

“The constitution says if for any reason the president is not available to discharge the functions of his office, the office of the vice president steps into his shoes and carries out the functions of that office.

“Now, when the president and his vice are not present to discharge the functions of that office, it’s an anomaly, it’s an irresponsible act.

“The president and his vice run on the same ticket, and that’s why the doctrine of necessity enables the vice president to step into the shoes of the president and carry out his duties. Now the constitution does not speculate a situation where the president and his vice are absent from office.

“The constitution did not provide for such an anomaly, it’s a clear abdication of duties by those elected officers. What happens is that the government has become headless.

The constitution did not speculate a situation where the president and vice will not be present at a time; what the constitution provides is that when the president is not available to discharge the duties of his office, he transmits power to the vice president who will step in his shoes to carry out the functions of his office pending when normalcy will return or in the case of ill-health when he will be healthy.”

Tinubu, Shettima’s absence can lead to impeachment

Idam pointed out that if Tinubu and Shettima are absent from duty at the same time, it warrants impeachment.

He said: “This has exposed the lacuna and irresponsible act of the president because a responsible occupier of that post is expected by the constitution to have transmitted power to the Vice president when leaving the country for any reason.

“Now, when he decided to leave the country without transmitting power and the vice president does the same, it has become worrisome – a constitutional quagmire – an impunity committed in that regard.

“For the two of them to leave the country without adhering to the constitution amounts to gross misconduct, which warrants impeachment by the National Assembly.

If we had an acting NASS, which is not a rubber stamp, it would have immediately convened a sitting and moved a motion for the impeachment of the president and vice president for acting recklessly. It’s a gross misconduct, as speculated by the constitution, and a clear case of impunity which warrants impeachment if they have the courage to do that.”

Tinubu can rule Nigeria from anywhere in the world

Despite the concerns raised, a former spokesman of the 2023 defunct Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization, Daniel Bwala, said Tinubu can govern the country from anywhere in the world.

Making reference to Section 5 of the Nigerian constitution, Bwala said the Presidential Villa is not a block industry, neither is the president a bricklayer.

According to Bwala: “The President @officialABAT is in charge of the country and can govern from anywhere in the world whether the Vice President is also in Nigeria or not. Aso Villa is not a block industry and the President is not a bricklayer. Read Section 5 of the Constitution.”

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