10 August 2017

Nigeria: Presidency - There Is No Basis for Buhari to 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.

The presidency wednesday restated that there was no basis for President Muhammadu Buhari, to resign from office, saying such calls are unlawful.

Following Buhari's absence from the country on medical vacation for over 90 days, popular musician, Charlie Boy and his group, 'Our-Mumu-Don-Do,' have since on Monday been embarking on a peaceful protest in Abuja, demanding his return from London or resign from office.

However, speaking on ARISE Television, a THISDAY Newspapers sister broadcast network, the Senior Special Assistant to president on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari has not violated any law and therefore there was no basis for the calls for his resignation.

"Honestly speaking, if they have work to do, they should go and do their business. This is because there is no basis for the demand they are making in law. The president has done the needful. The constitution says he can take this kind of leave and handed over power and so long that he has handed over power to the vice president. The National Assembly was duly notified, the constitution does not say there is time limit as to when he should return and therefore to now say he should return or resign, what is your basis for making that request. Are you backed by the law? The president has violated no law. What he is doing is consistent with the constitution of this country. The country should be governed by laws and not by thuggery," Shehu said.

Although the president's spokesman said there was no fixed date for Buhari to return, he expressed optimism that president would return "pretty soon."

On why the president did not speak to Nigerians via technology instead of series of visits to London, he said: "They would still have denied it. There is a saying that one who is pretending to be asleep is harder to wake up than the one who is actually sleeping. So the people who are determined not to believe, even if they see the president they would still be in that doubt. So at the right time, the president would be speaking to Nigerians."

Speaking on the audio recording sent to Nigerians during Muslim holiday, Shehu said the recording was a private message that leaked to the media, explaining that perhaps it was not intended for a larger audience.

"However, good enough it was evidence that the president was alive at the time when some people were saying the president had died. So if I had the recording privately, I would have produced this recording myself but somehow we saw it and it did serve that purpose," he said.

On why the ailment of the president is not fully disclosed, Shehu said the president was choosing his moment.

"Without being asked the last time he opened up and said what he went through for the ailment he had. The thing is that since it is not a requirement of the law, well maybe, for politics or whatever that people are demanding this notwithstanding, the president is entitled to a level of privacy.

"Let me say that in fairness to the president, I think he has said as much that needs to be known. In the past, we never knew Nigerian heads of state had headache. So for the first time, we have a president who has come out to say I am not well and is doing something others have not done before. Nigerian presidents usually go on vacation and not surrender power to the next in command. The president has given the reins of power to the vice president while he takes care of his health. Nigerians should be contented that he has been as forthright as he can be with the situation and at the appropriate time, he would come clean," he declared.

Meanwhile, despite their manhandling by the police, the 'resume or resign' protesters, for the third day yesterday hit the streets of Abuja, accusing Buhari of holding the nation to ransom by his absence.

They stated that acting President Yemi Osinbajo has been unable to take concrete decisions that could move the nation forward.

The group said Osinbajo could not allocate portfolios to ministerial nominees despite the transmission of power to him, stressing that this proved that Buhari's absence was stagnating the nation.

The protesters who held a sit-out at the Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja, under the wary eyes of policemen, stressed that the president is not greater than the country.

The sit-out held 24 hours after the coalition members were attacked by policemen with water cannons and tear gas canisters at the same venue.

Ariyo Atoye of the Coalition in Defence Of Nigerian Democracy said Buhari was being propped up in power by a cabal that wanted to continue using his name to loot the national treasury.

"It is the cabal that wants him (Buhari) to continue in power so they could loot the treasury. They said power has fully been transmitted to Osinbajo but he could not even allocate portfolio to ministers," he said.

A member of the BringBackOurGirls movement, Aisha Yesufu, criticised the police harassment, noting that the operatives should be deployed in the North-east region to fight Boko Haram insurgents rather than assaulting harmless youths.

She said the nation must move forward with or without the president, stressing that the country cannot afford to be held down by him.

Yesufu called on Nigerians to join the #resume or resign protests to compel the government to do the right thing.

She said: "Buhari is not greater than Nigeria and he cannot continue to hold the nation to ransom because he is ill. I once said he should resign and allow another person to take over, it is not as if we hate him, we love him and we pray for his quick recovery. It is not about a person, it is about the country; 'our mumu don do.'

Popular artist, Charlie Boy, and Nollywood actor, Jim Iyke admonished Nigerian youths to join the campaign to demand Buhari's return or resignation, noting that the issue is about the future and well-being of the nation.

Meanwhile, the Senate and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have condemned the brutal use of force by the Nigeria Police last Tuesday, to disperse protesters who were demanding the resumption or resignation of President Buhari, following his prolonged medical vacation in London.

The Senate however maintained its stance opposing the calls for the president's resignation by the #OurMumuDonDo protesters.

In a statement by its spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, wednesday, the Senate said it would not support any violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians for any reasons, despite its condemnation of the aim of the protest.

He also called on the police to review its rule of engagement.

Abdullahi said the protest was intended to force the president to resign or terminate his medical vacation.

The statement read further: "While we are opposed to the subject of the protest, the Senate acknowledges the fact that the protesters have the constitutional right to gather and express their views in a manner that will not breach public peace, order and tranquility. Since the 'Our-Mumu-Don-Do' protesters did not conduct themselves in such a manner as to disturb public peace, it is not right for the police to brutalise the people as they reportedly did yesterday (Tuesday),"

Also, the NLC has condemned the use of water cannons, tear gas and other offensive means by the police to disperse peacefully protesting citizens against the absence of our president.

The General Secretary of NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, in a statement wednesday, said the right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

This right, Ozo-Eson noted, has been affirmed by the courts of the land.

He said what was expected of the police, who have relatively done well with regards to public protests in recent times, was to sit it out with these protesters.

According to him, "the resort to violent dispersal is not only a violation of the rights of the protesters and norms of civilised behaviour but a smirch on the record of Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who during his oath of office had assured Nigerians that the police under his watch would police in line with democratic culture."

To this end, the NLC scribe advised the police to respect this fundamental rights of citizens to freely assemble and peacefully protest, irrespective of the subject matter of such actions.

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