8 August 2017

Nigeria: We Can't Substitute Buhari, Says Lai Mohammed As Groups Ask Buhari to Resume or Resign,

Photo: Vanguard
The protesters, a coalition of civil society groups, marched to the Villa on Monday, demanding that the President either resumes or resigns.

Ninety days after he left the country to treat an undisclosed ailment, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, yesterday, laid siege to the Presidential Villa, asking that President Muhammadu Buhari either resumes or resigns from office.

The Presidency in a sharp reaction dismissed the demand, saying the president fulfilled constitutional demands on him before his medical vacation, adding that the government is focused on its agenda of fighting corruption, insurgency and fixing the economy.

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also in a seeming rebuff to the demands said the president cannot be substituted on the claim that his absence has not undermined the efficacy of government.

The protesters under the aegis of Concerned Nigerians and "Our Mumu Don Do" Advocacy, who marched from Unity Fountain near the Transcorp Hilton Hotel to the gate of Presidential Villa, where they made their demands, but were not allowed access by security agents.

The protesters were led by musician, Charles Oputa (Charlie Boy) and Deji Adeyanju.

They lamented that for over 90 days President Buhari left and lived outside the country leaving room for persons they referred to as unelected individuals to manipulate the institutions of state.

They also accused his aides and associates of stage managing Buhari's health status and failing to open up to Nigerians to the true situation with the president.

Speaking yesterday, Adeyanju said: "The President cannot continue to remain in London infinitum, and Osinbajo cannot continue infinitum as Acting President.

"They are holding the country to ransom, it is not by force to remain a President, it is time to invoke sections 144 of the constitution. You can imagine what happened after the Anambra attack, the Cabal in Aso Rock who are bent on holding the country to ransom, bye-passed Osinbajo to issue a statement."

On his assertion, the leader of "Our Mumu Don Do" group, Oputa, also known as Charlie Boy said he had to come out to support the youths in demanding the right thing to be done, because the future of the younger generation was bleak with the way politicians are handling the issues of governance.

Buhari has complied with the constitution--Presidency

Meanwhile, no government official from the presidency came out to address the protesters.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in his reaction to the demand said: "The demonstration is in the exercise of their freedom under the constitution, which guarantees their right to embark on peaceful protests.

"On the second issue, demanding the President's return or resignation or certain explanations, I would say that they have over-stepped their bounds.

"The President has complied 100 percent with the constitution by handing over power to the Vice-President before proceeding on his vacation. He has not breached any law or the constitution by staying away from office to take care of his health.

"Equally, there is nothing like a power vacuum in the country given the competence and general harmony with which the whole government is running.

"Any such calls as being made by this or any other group represent an irrational assault on the constitution and should be ignored by well-meaning members of the public.

There can't be a substitute for Buhari --Lai Mohammed

Meanwhile, Alhaji Mohammed has insisted that there can be no substitute for President Buhari.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja, the minister said though the president is being missed, he said the country has remained in steady hands.

Mohammed said: "There is no doubt that we miss the president but I think the government has been functioning very well.

"There can't be a substitute for the president, no doubt but I don't think it has gotten to any stage whereby we find the kind of acrimony, agitations that are coming up."

"It is normal for anybody to be ill. When somebody is ill, there are certain things he cannot do, but we thank God that Mr. President is improving and he will come back very soon.

"The important thing is that government has been working. We have not missed one single federal executive council meeting since he left.

"Also, we have not missed one single national economic council meeting. Whatever needs to be done is being done because there are serious consultations between the Acting president and Mr. President and as such, I don't see the hoopla about Mr. President being away.

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