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CONSTITUTION DOESN'T ENVISAGE INDEFINITE AG PRESIDENT -– AC

By NBF News

Constitution doesn't envisage indefinite Ag President -- AC

From MODESTUS CHUKWULAKA, Abuja
Friday, March 05, 2010
The Action Congress (AC) has called on the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to invoke Section 144 of the Constitution to finally resolve the country's lingering leadership debacle and save President Umaru Yar'Adua from any humiliation.

In a communique issued in Benin on Wednesday, after its national executive committee meeting, the party's National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Constitution did not envisage an indefinite acting presidency.

It also said the current arrangement has its limitations and drawbacks, especially for national development, the acting president is terribly constrained in taking bold decisions needed to move the nation forward.

'The mere fact that the President is right there in Aso Rock, whether he is fully conscious or not, is like a sword of Damocles hanging over the acting president. Executive power is simultaneously vested on the president and the acting president, and this is a recipe for confusion.

'The acting president could neither dissolve the cabinet or appoint new members into it. He cannot take bold actions, like dealing decisively with the Electoral Reform,'' AC said.

It also said that if today – God forbids – the acting president becomes ill or he is otherwise unable to perform the functions of his office, the nation would be thrown into another round of constitutional crisis, with terrible consequences.

''Simply put, the Acting Presidency as we have it now is like a car moving on three tyres, instead of four, and without an extra tyre….since there is no vice president. The acting president is at the mercy of the ailing President and his kitchen cabinet,'' the party said.

It called on the Governors' Forum, which seems to have emerged as a major player in the ensuing power show in Abuja, to use its clout to put pressure on the FEC (most members of which were nominated by the governors) to act fast in the interest of the nation.

'It is obvious that President Yar'Adua is not in a position to decide whether or not to resign on the basis of his health. Therefore, in order to save the President from a possible impeachment, which we believe is not the best option, the FEC should give him a soft landing by invoking Section. 144.

'Once that is done, the Governors' Forum should also use their collective power to get the National Assembly to act fast on the FE C declaration, thus paving the way for Jonathan to become a substantive president so he can in turn act without constraints to move the nation forward,' AC said.

The party also called on the civil society to join in putting pressure on the state governors and the federal lawmakers to act decisively in the national interest to finally put an end to the leadership debacle.