The Extent Of The Powers And Responsibilities Of Nigeria’s Vice-President: An Appraisal BY O. G. CHUKKOL.

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

ABSTRACT

This article examines the status of Nigeria’s vice-president under the law. His powers and responsibilities in his capacity as Vice-president and Acting President were also judiciously appraised respectively. The article contends that vice-president has, in reality, no power under the law because he does only what he is delegated to do by the president. The paper questions the rationale behind the existence of the office in Nigeria in the first place since the constitution that created the office could not accord it due honor by making adequate provisions for him to be carried along as a matter of necessity. Though it might had been the intendment of the framers of the constitution that vice-president is to be carried along but with the inadequacy of the provisions of the constitution, this remains a fallacy because in the event of rift between the duo (president and his vice), the latter would remain redundant (this readily brings to mind  Obasanjo and Atiku).  The paper further argues that the decision of the Supreme Court on the extent of the relationship between President and vice-president which suggests the latter to be inferior and therefore must be loyal in whatever circumstance needs review at the earliest opportunity in view of the  peculiar environment and nature of the game of politics in Nigeria.

The article identified numerous lacunae existing in the constitution and recommendations were made for its amendment to make it wholesome, relevant and suitable to deal with leadership challenges at the topmost executive level of government.

 

Keywords: Constitution, Nigeria, President, Vice-President, Acting president,

1 INTRODUCTION.

A cardinal principle in presidential system of government is the existence of the president and his vice. Despite the fact that Nigeria is sovereign state and therefore has every right to adopt certain foreign governmental principles with such modifications that will suit its peculiar socio cultural and political environment, it failed in this regard. 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) hereinafter referred to as the constitution merely copied and pasted United States constitution and has ended up creating a dormant office called the office of the vice-president.

The aim of this paper is to show that the office of the vice-president in Nigeria has no real powerless. The office is of less constitutional value and political relevance. In doing that this writer would discuss who a vice-president is, his responsibilities both as vice-president and Acting President respectively, the fallacy in his powers and then concluding remarks and various recommendations.

2 OFFICE OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT.

The Vice-president is the second in command to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The office is officially styled Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Vice President is elected alongside the President in national election. The office is a creation of the constitution. It is established pursuant to section 142(1) thereof. It is incumbent upon any person contesting for the office of the President to nominate a running mate from the same political party whom the constitution describes as an “associate” to occupy the office of the vice-president, else, his election will be deemed to be invalid. The constitution did not give the meaning of an “associate”

In interpreting the word “associate” in the case of AG FEDERATION v. ABUBAKAR (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 389) 1264 at 1298, Akintan J. S. C. said:

“I believe that the unity contemplated by the arrangement transcends the election. I also believe and hold that their relationship should be throughout their joint term.”

Akintan J. S. C. continued by adding that A Vice President is not at liberty to refuse to carry out government decisions of which he personally disagrees, or to defy government orders or the authority of the President over him or other wise to act as if he is an independent executive within the government. That the arrangement implies that a Vice President can continue to be in office only when he can, in conscience, be loyal to the President. The moment a Vice President sees himself not any more as a member of the President’s team but as a team leader in his own right, the honourable thing for him to do is to resign. In the present Constitution, only one man is in charge. There is no room for two captains. So it is a question of one being willing to continue to accept order or not. The Constitutional arrangement completely subordinates the Vice President to the President. He is only a lieutenant.

Yes it is true that that the Constitution assumes that the President and the Vice President should maintain the same relationship throughout their term in office, but with due respect, the opinion of the learned Justice on loyalty of the vice-president and the relationship between the President and his vice as Master/Servant relationship or subordination of vice president to the President to the point of being an appendage are faulty.

I am in total concurrence with Kehinde Mowoe for her criticism of the pronouncement of the honourable justice regarding loyalty (in her book Constitutional law in Nigeria, Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd, 2008). She opined that Whilst there is no doubt that the Vice president cannot operate independent of the president, there is no doubt that requiring him to be obedient and carry out government orders whether or not he disagrees is to carry the import of the association in the relationship to absurdity.  Can a situation not arise whereby the vice-president would be justified in the interest of the nation to refuse such orders? Is he or should be be bound where it affects his freedom of conscience or fundamental provisions of the constitution? What if the orders were in relation to secession of a section or commission of genocide for example? The Supreme Court ought to have made room for such limitations in its pronouncement.

In a democracy which is founded upon a constitution which assigns offices and responsibilities, the Vice President cannot be a slave to the President with no will or opinion of his own and that his personality or individuality should submerge in that of the President.

The learned Justice appears not to have adverted his mind to the Supreme Court decision in the case of P.D.P v. INEC (1999) II NWLR (Pt. 625) 200, by analogy, per the judgment of Uwais CJN, page 241 that:

“…. The office of Deputy Governor is not simply an appendage to that of the Governor. Once elected even though on the same ticket as the Governor-elect, the Deputy-Governor-elect becomes sui generis.”

Again, in the same judgment, Ayoola JSC, reasoned thus at page 265: –

“The fallacy in the position taken by the respondents is in assuming that the Governor and the Deputy-Governor swim or sink together for all purposes. It is clearly from the provisions of the Decree that although they may swim or sink together for the purposes of winning an election, once they have swam to the shore of electoral victory, they map out their independent fortunes which may include one of them deciding not to take the office to which he had been elected. Had the legislature wanted them to swim or sink together for all purposes, express provisions would have been made to that effect.”

Applying the dicta in the above case by analogy, the Vice President, by the intention of the legislators expressed in the aforesaid provision of the Constitution, is not subordinate to the President and neither is the relationship between them that of master/servant. That the Constitution intends the Vice President to be an “associate” of the President does not go beyond the time the election was conducted and they have won. Once the election is over, both of them, as was expressed by Ayoola JSC above are at liberty to map out their independent fortunes.

3 RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE VICE PRESIDENT.

While the Constitution specifically created the office of both the President and that of the Vice President in sections 130(1) and 142(1) respectively, it went ahead under section 5(1) to vest the executive powers of the Federation in ONLY the President. But the President is required to exercise the executive powers conferred on him either directly or through the Vice President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation.

Though it can be contended that the role of the Vice-President is not sufficiently defined in the Constitution because it vests the totality of the executive powers of the Federation on the President, there are still some specific responsibilities assigned to the Vice-President under the Constitution. For the purpose of this article, these responsibilities would be discussed under two headings viz: his duties as Vice-president and his duties as Acting President.

3.1 DUTIES AS VICE-PRESIDENT.

Among the functions of the Vice-president is giving advice to the President being the member of the president’s cabinet. It is a matter of right. Section 148(2) of the constitution provides thus:

“The President shall hold regular meetings with the Vice-President and all the Ministers of the Government of the Federation for the purposes of_

(a) determining the general direction of domestic and foreign policies of the Government of the

Federation;

(b) co-ordinating the activities of the President, the Vice-President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities; and

(c) advising the President generally in the discharge of his executive functions other than

those functions with respect to which he is required by this Constitution to seek the advice or act on the recommendation of any other person or body”.

Two things are fundamental in the above constitutional provision. “shall” and “regular”. On the import of the use of the word “Shall’’ in an enactment” including the constitution, The Supreme Court, Per Adekeye, J.S.C. in Dr. ANwankwo v.  Yar’Adua (2010) LPELR-2109(SC) at Pages 78, Paras. D-E had this to say:

“The word shall when used in a statutory provision imports that a thing must be done. It is a form of command or mandate. It is not permissive, it is mandatory. The word shall in its ordinary meaning is a word of command which is normally given a compulsory meaning as it is intended to denote obligation.”

It therefore goes without saying that the President is bound to consult the vice-president before making some decisions. Perhaps my point will be clearer if I seek solace in the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in the case of Kagoma V The Governor of Kaduna State (1981) 2 NCLR 529 at pp.546-547 where Mamman Nasir, PCA (as he then was) while Constructing Section 174(2) of the 1979 Constitution (Now section 148 of the 1999 constitution) his Lordship pointed out as follows:

“…The issue is whether the Governor must always seek the advice of the Deputy-Governor and the Commissioners. I am… of the view that if the Governor takes it upon himself and refuses to hold these regular meetings, he constitutes himself as a dictator and this will be in my view not only contrary to the spirits of the Constitution but is clearly a breach of the specific provisions of this Section.”

On the other hand, the word “regular” as used in the provisions connotes frequency in time. According to Professor Nwabueze, it is not as and when it suits the whim of the President.

Another significant role is that of succession. Section 146 of the constitution provides that:

“The Vice-President shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with section 143 (impeachment) or 144 (permanent incapacitaty) of the Constitution.”

This provision of section 146(1) is to ensure that there is no vacuum in the leadership of the country should any of the circumstances enumerated under the subsection occurs. One shortcomings of this section is its failure to stipulate time frame within which the vice-president will continue as President. But perhaps the intendment of the framers of the constitution is that he is to just finish the tenure of the president. Of course this assumption is logical.

Another fundamental question is whether finishing the tenure of the president in case of death or any other reason as provided under section 146 of the constitution would constitute a tenure by the vice-president for the purpose of determining qualification for contesting the office since by section 135(2) the office is to be occupied for four years as a term and by section 137 (2)(b) person cannot occupy the office of the President twice, the community effect of which no person would occupy the office for more than eight years and by virtue of Section 136 (1) (b) of the Constitution, no person shall take the oath of allegiance and the oath of office prescribed to in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution more than twice. That was exactly the issue that arose prior to 2015 elections which former president Goodluck Jonathan indicated interest of contesting. He finished Yaradua’s tenure and had also sworn the oath of allegiance and oath of office twice. The first oath was when he succeeded Yaradua and the second oath was when he won the 2011 elections.

The Abuja High Court reasoned that the tenure of the President which the Vice-president finishes cannot be counted as a term. That Section 137 applies only when someone is elected as president and not when such person assumes the office in accordance with section 146 of the constitution. Thus: the court further held that in the eyes of the law, Jonathan’s tenure commenced on May 29, 2011, saying he only assumed the presidential seat in 2010 following the demise of his boss, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who duly contested and won the 2007 presidential election.

Regarding the oath that Goodluck Jonathan took twice, the court held that Goodluck’s situation is an exceptional circumstance so the law is not applicable. On appeal, the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the Abuja High Court. The appeal was dismissed. (see http://thenationonlineng.net/appeal-court-clears-jonathan-to-contest-election/)

This writer has no hesitation in taking a strong objection against the holding that the term of Yaradua which Jonathan completed was not to be counted as part of a term since Jonathan was not elected into the office. With all due respect there is artificiality in this decision. The judgement was based on a technical and mechanical approach. This cannot represent the intendment of the framers of the constitution. The Constitution is not like any other statute. It is unique. Our Law Reports are replete with authorities to the effect that broader interpretation should always be given to the constitution.

In AG, Ondo State v AG, Federation (2002) 1 NWLR (Pt. 772) p.222  Supreme Court held:

“It must be remembered that we are here concerned not with the interpretation of a statute but the Constitution which is our organic law or grundnorm. Any narrow interpretation of its provisions will do violence to it and will fail to achieve the goal set by the Constitution. See Nafiu Rabiu v. Kano State (1980) 8 – 11 SC 130…”

In the recent case of ARDO v. NYAKO (2013) LPELR-20887(CA), Court of Appeal restated the need for the Courts generally to adopt a purposive approach tending towards a broad or liberal interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution except where there is indication in the text that a narrower interpretation will best fulfill the objects and purposes of the Constitution.

Justice Onnoghen In the case of Marwa v Nyako (2012) LPELR-SC.141/201 held to the effect that the task of expounding a constitution is crucially different from that of construing a statute. A statute defines present rights and obligations a constitution by contrast is drafted with an eye to the future. Its function is to provide a continuing frame work for the legitimate exercise of governmental power, it must therefore, be capable of growth and development over time to meet new social, political and historical realities often unimagined by its framers. He again in Dr Saraki v. FRN (2016) LPELR-40013(SC) restated the “living tree” doctrine of constitutional interpretation which postulates that the Constitution must be capable of growth to meet the future.

Guided by the above principles and many others not stated herein, can it be said that Section 135 does not envisage Vice-president to be deemed to have been elected into the office of the President in the event of the death of the president? Vice President is not voted in a separate election, but by the very same votes by which the President is elected. This is because, as already shown above, a Presidential candidate is required to nominate another candidate to run with him on the same ticket as mate or associate” for the office of Vice President.

In Marwa v Nyako (supra) while interpreting section 180 of the constitution regarding the office of the governors which is in pari materia with section 135 of the constitution for president, the court held as follows:

“It is clear, in my view, that by section 180 of the Constitution, the intention is that a GOVERNOR SHALL have a tenure of 4 YEARS from the date he took the oath of allegiance and oath of office and no more, in all a governor shall have a MAXIMUM OF EIGHT YEARS”

If Jonathan had won, it means he would have occupied the office for ten (years) contrary to the spirit and letters of the constitution. Because court in Marwa’scase above added thus:

“It is settled law that the time fixed by the constitution for the doing of anything cannot be extended. It is immutable, fixed like the rock of Gibraltar. It cannot be extended, elongated, expanded, or stretched beyond what it states. To calculate the tenure of office of the governors from the date of their second Oaths of Allegiance and of Office while ignoring the period from 29th May, 2007, when they took the first oaths is to extend the four years tenure constitutionally granted the governors to occupy and act in that office which would be unconstitutional.”

From the foregoing, it is obvious that the decision of the Abuja High Court upheld by the Court of Appeal which declared that finishing the term of Yaradua cannot be counted as part of Good luck’s tenure is per incuriam (in error) both Yaradua and Goodluck came to power through the same vote so there is no way the Court would separate the votes. Also, the fact that Goodluck Jonathan swore an oath of allegiance and the oath of office shows that he occupied the office of the President.

Some specific responsibilities assigned to the Vice-President in the 1999 Constitution includes being the agent of the President in his exercise of the executive powers conferred on him by the Constitution; (section 5(1)(a)) responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government previously assigned to him by the President; 148(1) presiding over the meeting of the National Economic Council; to be the Deputy Chairman of the following Federal Councils established by section 153 of the 1999 Constitution, namely; the Council of

State, the National Defence Council and the National Security Council.

3.2 DUTIES AS ACTING PRESIDENT.

The inadequacies and lacunae in our constitution came to light in 2009 when president Yaradua travelled outside the country for treatment without transmitting a letter to the National Assembly apprising them of his trip. There was confusion everywhere in the country because Goodluck was redundant as Vice-president and no one was exercising the powers of the President. Some were suggesting that Jonathan should take over executive powers pending the return of the President while others were opposing the suggestion. There arose the need for constitutional interpretation in order to lay every controversy to rest. Among the questions that agitated minds of the people were: Could vice president discharge the functions of the president in the absence of the president? If the answer is in the affirmative, why? And if no why? Another question was: what was the status of Jonathan at that point in time since Yaradua was outside the country? Was he just a Vice-president or was also an Acting President at the same time?

In Onwueke v A. G, Federation FHC /ABJ/ CS/10 /2010, High Court Abuja held to the effect that Vice President could by section 5(1) and 148(1), in the absence of the sitting president, exercise all the powers vested in the President. He said the exercise of such presidential powers by the Vice President could be queried only by Mr President if he did not permit the Vice President to so perform the presidential functions and that if the president did not complain or challenge the vice president or his ministers over usurpation of his constitutional functions, no one could challenge the exercise of his presidential functions by any member of his cabinet. And that Goodluck was to exercise those powers in his capacity as VICE-PRESIDENT. He could sign anything the President could sign, he could send bills to the National Assembly and he could sign any bill.

The above decision still raised some fundamental questions, I. e. Why was Jonathan not Acting President? Or put it in a different way, who is an Acting President? And what was the extent of the powers of an Acting President? High Court in answering this question reasoned that, by the provisions of the constitution, Acting president is someone who assumes the powers of the President of Nigeria in accordance with section 145 thereof.

The provision of section 145 is as follows:

“Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”

While interpreting the above section, the Court held that Vice President could perform the functions of the President as Acting President ONLY if a written declaration is transmitted to the National Assembly. And when he transmits, it means the Vice President is no longer exercising the powers of the President on his behalf but exercising the powers in his own right.

Fortunately or unfortunately, seemed not contented with the decision of the court, the Senate invoked the “doctrine of necessity” and declared Jonathan the Acting President of Nigeria to discharge the functions of the president.

It should be noted that section 145 does not, within the words used in the section, make it mandatory for the President to convey to the National Assembly a declaration of his impending inability to discharge the functions of his office. However, when that section is read together with all other relevant provisions of the Constitution, one may be right to say that it becomes incumbent upon the President to do so since in law, whenever any provision of the Constitution is to be interpreted, that provision must be considered in the context of the whole Constitution. This finds support of the Supreme Court in the case of Okulate vs Awosanya [2000] FWLR 1552 -1743 (Part 25) where per Uthman Mohammed, JSC, stated the law at 1695 thus:

“it is settled law that when interpreting the provisions of the constitution, all its provisions must be read together.”

With the above decision as a background and for a proper understanding of section 145, if section 1(2) which provides for governing only in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, is read together with the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution which contains the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office as well as section 5(1) and section 148 of the Constitution, it may be said that the first and paramount duty of any President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to ensure the continuity of constitutional government in the country. Consequently, section 145, taken together with the President’s Oath of Allegiance and his Oath of office, compels the President, any time he realizes that he is going to be unable, for any reason whatsoever, to discharge the functions of his office, to take the necessary step to ensure the continuity of constitutional government in the country during his absence. This writer is of the view that but for the faulty draft of the section 145, the above argument as to whether the transmission of letter to the National Assembly is mandatory or not would not have arisen.

Without prejudice to all that has been said above, the position of the law as it is today is that if president leaves the country without transmitting a declaration letter, Vice President would exercise all executive functions on behalf of the president unless the President says otherwise and can be questioned only by the president and no one else. However, if a written declaration is transmitted to the Senate, then the vice’s duty becomes dual, to wit, that of the President and that of his office as vice President. Here he does not act on behalf of the president, he acts as Acting-President as of right and not subject to any inhibitive factor.

Furthermore, whether person is a Vice-president or an Acting President, whether a letter is transmitted to the National Assembly or not, in the absence of the president, Vice President is entitled to exercise all executive functions of the president. “Acting President” is just a matter of nomenclature. Peradventure, the only difference is that in the capacity of Vice-president, executive powers are exercised on behalf of the president while under Acting President, powers are exercised ex debito juticere (as of right)

At this point we would look at those powers of the President the “Acting President” is to exercise. President exercises executive powers and Executive powers generally means execution of laws made by the National Assembly. Section 5(1) of the constitution provides as follows:

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive powers of the Federation:

(a) shall be vested in the President and may subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly, be exercised by him either directly or through the Vice-President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation; and

(b) shall extend to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, all laws made by the National Assembly and to all matters with respect to which the National Assembly has, for the time being, power to make laws.

However, a careful perusal of the above provision shows tha, the powers of the President goes beyond execution of laws for three reasons, to wit, the section opens with “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution”. Which means the executive powers of the President as provided in this section is subject to other provisions of the constitution. In other words, there are other powers provided within the constitution. And under sub (a) it makes the powers subject to the Acts of the National Assembly. Lastly, the use of the phrase “extends to” which suggests that there are other powers apart from the ones under section 5.

The other powers of the President are: security powers which is basically anchored on giving directive to the Inspector-General of Police, through the Nigeria Police Council, under section 216, as well as under section 218 of the Constitution, which empowers the President to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces, power to appoint and remove from office. Example, ministers,  Special  Advisers,ambassadors etc, declaration of state of emergency under section 305, prerogative of mercy under section 175, assent to bills under section 58 reading together with section 2 of Interpretation Act, 2004 and many other powers.

In the absence of the president, the Vice President has no legal restrictions on the authority exercisable. Much of the restrictions on it will be political as the Acting President will need to be restrained and careful to avoid using his powers in such a way that may give the impression that he is harboring a different motive from his principal on the issues he takes decisions on.

4   FALLACY IN THE POWERS OF NIGERIA’S VICE-PRESIDENT.

The Nigerian Constitution, like the American presidential system, envisages single executive for which the President is the head and in whom the executive powers are vested. Article 11 of the Constitution of the United States, just like section 5(1) of our Constitution, provides that “the executive power shall be vested in a President of the United State.” The principle implies the preclusion of vesting of the executive powers in two or more persons of equal authority.

In Zimbabwe, it is mandatory for the president, subject to certain exceptions, to act upon the advice of the cabinet. This model underlines the importance of participatory decision-making process unlike the Nigeria’s which allows for presidential dictatorship.

The Nigerian constitution gives the vice-president the power to advise the president under section 148 thereof but it does not make it mandatory for the president to accept the advice. In Governor of Kaduna State v Kagoma (1982) All N.L.R 160 Nnamani J. S. C. said:

“although it is mandatory that he holds regular meetings with his Commissioners, it is clear that the content of what is to be discussed in such meetings is in his discretion; …the Governor is not obliged to accept any advice tendered at such meetings. …The Governor of a State is therefore… the repository of the executive power of that state. He is the Chief Executive of that State.”

The president also does only what the President assigns him to do, nothing more. Making the President relevant only in the absence of the president leaves many questions than answers. Vice President does not exercise real executive powers. This explains why in practice vice-president turns to be an errand boy or excessively loyal in order to maintain relevance by being assigned duties by the President. This goes to show that if vice-president is stubborn or has acrimonious relationship with the President, he will remain redundant.

The Vice-President is only a deputy chairman; his powers would again depend to a very large extent on his relationship with the President. If there is cordial relationship between them, the President may always stay away from meetings and allow the Vice-President chair them, thus making the Vice-President functional. If the relationship is not cordial then the President would ensure that meetings come-up only when he has the time to chair, not when he would not attend.

One is constrained at this point to ask:  do we actually need the office of the vice-president? If the answer is yes then why? One wonders what the framers of the constitution intended the kind of a national officer the Vice-President should be. Could it be that they envisaged a powerless second citizen who would only be seen but not heard? Or a Vice-President who is only at the mercy of the President? He is a national Officer who does not have constitutional powers of his own except as granted at the whims and caprices of the President. He is of less constitutional value and of less political relevance. The makers of our Constitution appear not to have thought of the office as being of any serious significance except in the event of vacancy in the office of the President. It is on this note that a writer, Nat OFO (in his article Rethinking the Leadership Role of the Vice-President of Nigeria) described vice-president as “a spare president” (Akin to a spare tyre that is only relevant and put into use when any of the main tyres are unusable, defective or damaged)

5 CONCLUDING REMARKS.

A dispassionate and careful consideration of some of the provisions of the Constitution has shown some lacunae existing in the constitution. Now in view of the current commitment the National Assembly has shown in amending the Constitution, it is desirable for this writer to proffer precise recommendations toward the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to make it wholesome, relevant and suitable to deal with leadership challenges at the topmost executive level of government.

The areas requiring constitutional amendment are: the express stipulation of specific executive roles for the Vice-President in the Constitution under section 5(1) and 148(1), temporary absence of the President under section 145, and the Vice-President succeeding the President under section 146(1)

It is hereby suggested that the constitution should stipulate a specific functional role for the Vice-President. It can be a ministry or a particular government department without making it subject to the President or anybody’s approval. It should be a matter of right as the vice-president of Nigeria.

This will ensure that the Vice-President plays a definite, certain and more active role in the administration. A situation of having a top-ranking number two citizen who is almost entirely redundant will be eliminated. If this recommendation is acceped, the Vice-President will cease to be a mere spare President, waiting President or a figure-head and/or the President’s errand boy. He would be a more active and responsible State official vested with specific executive function(s). The turbulent relationship between President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku would not replicate itself. This writer should not be misconstrued as suggesting a parliamentary system of government since he is not advocating that one should be Head of State and the other should be Head of government. Perhaps one would be correct to say that the single executive for which the President is the head and in whom the executive powers are vested is because of the Presidential system we are practicing. It is strongly submitted that there are no hard-and-fast rules about a system of government a country should adopt. Nigeria as a sovereign state has the carte blanche to adopt any system with such modification as its peculiar political experiences, exigencies and the political future may demand. It has the right by its grundnorm (constitution) to arrogate an executive power to Vice President. Office of Vice-President should be like a training field for those eyeing the presidency. Because while serving as the Vice-President, he will be exposed to the rudiments of state administration.

Section 135(2)(b) needs amendment. The word “elected”, which the court in Good luck’s case made heavy weather of and misdirect itself, should be expunged. It should now read as follows:

135(2) “Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, the governor shall vacate his office at the expiration of a period of four (4) years commencing from the date when:-

(b) The person who last held that office took the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office or would, but for his death, have taken that oaths.”

Section 145 of the constitution also needs redrafting. To avoid a situation where president would one day leave this country without transmitting a letter to the National Assembly. Preferably, the section 145 should be drafted in a commanding tone as follows:

“Whenever the President is proceeding on vacation, or is for any other

reason unable to perform the functions of his office, he shall transmit to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a declaration that he would be unable to discharge the functions of his office and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President“

Section 146 which gives various conditions under which the vice-president shall assume the office of the President should also be amended to specifically mention that if Vice finishes the tenure of the president on the ground of death or for whatever reason, he will be entitled to contest for the office of the President not more than once.

 

 

O. G. CHUKKOL (Oliver Gift Chukkol in full) is a Student, Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State of Nigeria. 08032470318 or email – oliverchukkol@gmail.com