the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, on Wednesday defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to travel without noifying the National Assembly.
He said the President did not undermine the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by travelling without transmitting a letter to the federal parliament.
Omoworare, who addressed journalists in Abuja alongside his colleague in the House of Representatives, Mr Umar El-Yakub, insisted that the President was free to perform his functions from anywhere in the world.
He said, “Contrary to the claims by some individuals and groups, the President has not in any way undermined or relegated the office of the Vice-President. He has no reason to do so.
“I don’t think there is any way or manner that the office of the Vice-President has been relegated.
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can work from anywhere he is in the world.”
He explained that the only case where people could raise issues was when a President became ill and unable to communicate his absence to the National Assembly.
Omoworare said, “The only celebrated case was that of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who was ill and could not transmit any letter to the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly had to work round the situation by ensuring that the executive powers went to the Vice-President.”
He said the situation now was different from Yar’Adua’s case and that Buhari had not done anything wrong by not transferring executive powers to his deputy before embarking on his foreign trip.
El-Yakub also told journalists that the Minister of Finance had started the disbursement of N600bn to ministries, departments and agencies of government on the orders of President Buhari.
He also said the President was committed to working with the National Assembly to ensure quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill whenever it was introduced to the parliament.
El -Yakub said, “Mr President gave a directive that N600bn be released so as to make the 40 per cent implementation of the capital budget a reality.
“The Minister of Finance has started disbursing the money.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, Chief Ralph Nwosu, on Wednesday, said it was constitutionally wrong for Buhari to embark on a more than 21-day travel outside Nigeria without handing over power to the Vice-President.
His position is at variance with that of Omoworare, who said Buhari did not undermine the office of the Vice-President by travelling without transmitting to the NASS a letter that would allow Osinbajo to act.
Nwosu, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja advised Buhari to adhere strictly to Nigeria’s constitution, adding that it was surprising that Osinbajo could be relegated despite his loyalty to the President as attested to by the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Faruk Umar.
The ADC chairman urged the National Assembly to check the perceived excesses of Buhari and other members of the executive arm of government.
Nwosu said, “It is constitutionally wrong for the President not to transmit power to the Vice-President when he is staying more than 21 days outside the country. NASS should wake up because NASS is there for a purpose. If we have a quality NASS, some of these excesses from the executive will not be happening. NASS should be able to check the excesses of the executive or the President. They should check the excesses otherwise they are desecrating our democracy and we will all suffer for it.
“Buhari should follow the constitution and do the needful. I listened to the Emir of Daura saying that the Vice-President is the most loyal person to the President. So leaving the most loyal person for other persons in the villa, the President should call such people to retrace their steps. You wonder the party structure, they are from a party. There is no ADC President who will ever do that because the party will ensure that the constitution is followed.”