Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari laid a good and exemplary precedent by writing to the National Assembly pursuant to Section 145 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) that he would be proceeding on vacation and in his absence his functions as President should be performed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as Acting President.
Section 145 of the Constitution provides that whenever the President is proceeding on vacation or otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his Office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice President shall perform the functions of the President as Acting President.
This section of the Constitution was introduced after the legal conundrum that resulted from the failure of late President Umaru Musa Yaradua to hand over to the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan before travelling to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment in November, 2009.
It is well settled that Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has been out of the country for the past one month.
However, he bluntly refused to transmit a written declaration to the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly as contemplated by Section 190 subsection 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, that he is unable to discharge the functions of his Office and to that effect Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu shall perform the functions of his Office as Acting Governor!
The vacuum created by Governor Ayade blatant violation of Section 190 subsection 1 of the Constitution has led to the absurdity and illegality of one Frank Ayade usurping and assuming the functions of the Governor of Cross River State and sacking appointees of government!
It is indeed worrisome, an aberration and a cause for serious concerns. The foundation for this flagrant violation of the Constitution was indeed laid by Governor Ben Ayade himself when in thanksgiving Church service in Obudu Local Government Area way back in August 2015 introduced Frank Ayade as “Co-Governor” to bewilderment and consternation of those present and the media alike!
I submit that the failure of Governor Ayade to comply with the provisions of Section 190 subsection 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in transmitting a written declaration to the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly to the effect that by his travelling abroad he would be unable to perform the functions as Governor and that the Deputy Governor, Professor Esu would discharge those functions as Acting Governor of Cross River State of Nigeria.
Section 190 subsection 1 of the Constitution is applicable to both when the Governor is on leave and when he is temporary absence. Governor Ayade has been absent from office since end of January 2016. This is a temporary absence within the contemplation of Section 190 subsection 1 of the Constitution.
Indeed the marginal note of Section 190 subsection 1 of the Constitution reads thus:” Acting Governor during temporary absence of Governor”. Accordingly, Section 190 subsection 1 of the Constitution provide thus:
“Whenever the Governor is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the Speaker of the House of Assembly to that effect, and until he transmits to the Speaker of the House of Assembly a written declaration to the contrary, the Deputy Governor shall perform the functions of the Governor as Acting Governor”.
Without much ado, I submit that the action of Governor Ayade is a gross misconduct which undoubtedly is a ground for the Cross River State House of Assembly to initiate and indeed activate the process for his removal from office.
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