“Pick up a copy of the dictionary and our constitution and see where it is clearly stated that once the President is on confirmed leave the Acting President should
take up all the functions of the president, including conducting international diplomacy.” – Author
According to Presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina, President Buhari who is vacationing in London spoke with President of the United States, Donald John Trump, yesterday.
As at the time of writing this note, I have not seen any tweet or comment from the Trump White House confirming the conversation or giving details.
I do not expect CNN to give premium time to News of Trump speaking to Nigerian leader.
That network will probably not consider it worth more than a 30s mention and will likely not run it as a major news scroll.
They are more interested in “fake news” reportage of Trump’s activities with a view to bringing down his administration.
I have seen reports in New York Times confirming the conversation though with a skew towards the media release from Nigerian government officials. Nothing from US sources.
Yet it is still safe to assume that POTUS spoke with President Buhari or someone so identified by the Nigerian authorities.
Still the reported conversation raises salient issues of diplomacy and constitutionalism.
There can only be one President in a country and as far as Nigeria is concerned Acting President Yemi Osibanjo is currently the president of Nigeria.
He is the right person to be spoken to by foreign and local officials wishing to do business with Nigeria.
From the point President Buhari handed over that letter to the National Assembly and it was received and made part of the records, only Osibanjo qualifies to be spoken to by Donald Trump or any other world leader with respect to Nigerian official issues.
Whoever arranged for a vacationing Buhari to speak to POTUS from a foreign land and at a time he is not effectively in office is not wise.
Unless we are going to receive assurances that the conversation was a private conversation ONLY.
Something like “please get well soon we are praying for you” will be in order.
I strongly suspect that the White House and state department is aware of the situation around our president and hence not in a hurry to directly publicize the phone call or allude to an official discussion. If they confirm having an official conversation with a president on medical vacation it will constitute bad judgement on the part of the Trump administration, with likelihood of future embarrassment.
What if the individual they spoke with turns out not to be President Buhari?
Who did the coordination and authentication?
Was the US ambassador to Nigeria aware of the conversation and confirmed that indeed President Buhari was the individual spoken to?
Who recorded what was discussed and passed on to Femi Adesina who has already admitted that he has not personally spoken to the president since he left the country?
How many Nigerian public officials actually know the exact location of the vacationing President of our federal republic?
Most importantly, is the new administration in Washington unaware of the fact that the President is on medical leave and may not actually be in control of all his faculties?
Will Nigeria be expected to honor whatever was discussed between a President on MEDICAL leave at an unknown location abroad and the President of United States of America sitting at the White House official residence of the POTUS?
My take remains that whatever was discussed between President Buhari and POTUS Trump was a private conversation.
If Trump wishes to speak officially with the Nigerian President at this time he should be speaking with Acting President Yemi Osibanjo.
If you think I am wrong, pick up a copy of the dictionary and our constitution and see where it is clearly stated that once the President is on confirmed leave the Acting President should take up all the functions of the president, including conducting international diplomacy.
John Okiyi Kalu