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2017 budget signing controversy: Osinbajo competent … Falana, others

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Following the successful passage of the 2017 budget by the National Assembly last Thursday, a fresh round of controversy is already brewing as to whether the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has the constitutional power to append his signature on the appropriation bill before it becomes a working document ready for implementation.

This much, Nigerian NewsDirect gathered might not be unconnected with the scheming by certain members of the cabal dictating affairs at the presidency.

Recall the cabal has been blamed for inserting in the letter sent to the National Assembly to confer presidential powers on the Vice-President, the controversial clause which states that Osinbajo will “coordinate” the nation’s affairs while President Muhammadu Buhari is away for medical treatment in London.

Sources close to the presidency disclosed to Nigerian NewsDirect that in spite of the public condemnation of the cabal attempting to incapacitate Osinbajo, the cabal is not backing down yet.

“They want to act their script again on the budget signage to erode the Acting President’s power and authority in an attempt to hijack apparatuses of the government from him.”

“Many of them are afraid of Osinbajo establishing himself at the seat of power, due to the deteriorating state of Buhari’s ailment with fears that the worst could happen,” he said.

Albeit, some leading lawyers had told  Nigerian NewsDirect that the cabal might fail in any attempt to throw up any controversy over the signing of the budget by Osinbajo, because since the Senate has conferred presidential power on him as the  “Acting President” he is constitutionally empowered to carry out all the functions delegated to the President’s office.

When Nigerian NewsDirect contacted the renowned human right lawyer, Barrister Femi Falana who replied through text message in an enquiry made as to the extent of the Acting President’s powers in signing the passed budget, Falana said the Acting President is “competent” to append his signature on the bill and begin speedy implementation of its contents.

“Once the President refers to the relevant constitutional provision the matter is settled as the VP shall automatically become the Acting President. Since he is empowered to discharge all the duties and functions of the President as Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is competent to sign the Appropriation Bill into law.

“President Buhari did not refer to VP Osinbajo as “coordinator”. He said he was writing the letter pursuant to section 145 of the constitution and that in his absence the VP will coordinate the affairs of the State,” Falana stated.

In the same vein, Barr Kabir Akingbolu in his reaction said no cabal hold can Nigeria to ransom, however, conceitedly powerful they may be.

His words: “Although, it is regrettable the way we do things in the country at times, however, no cabal or any group of self serving individuals can hold Nigeria to ransom, however conceitedly  powerfully they may think they are.

“That being the case, the use of the word or phrase “coordinate” as it appeared in the President’s letter is highly mischievous because it is unnecessary.

“If the President or his kitchen cabinet had known what effect such is capable of doing negatively, they would have done the needful. Let praise singers and the cabals know that the sovereignty of Nigeria is greater than anybody.” Akingbolu noted.

He reiterated that the cabal and their ilk should know that the sovereignty was greater than anybody and thus, its unity was sacrosanct and non negotiable

“What is more, the letter was sent under section 245 of the 1999 constitution, and that section automatically transfers power to the Vice President. For this reason, a holistic view of the letter shows that the VP is to act for the time being that President Buhari is away, no more no less. And this makes it easy for the National Assembly to take the stance that’s in tandem with the constitution and we should praise them.” Akingbolu said.

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