An Abuja-based political scientist and national security scholar, Mr. Ayokunle Fagbemi, has called on statutory entities of the Federal Government to initiate the processes for the determination of President Muhammadu Buhari's health status. He made the call in a press statement made available to SaharaReporters.
According to the security expert, his call was informed by the fact that the Nigerian public has been taken for granted and starved of information on the President's health despite wishing him well and praying for him. Mr. Fagbemi explained that President Buhari has spent cumulatively about 97 days on medical leave this year alone, an action in contravention of the Public Service Rules (PSR).
"The applicable PSR 070316 stipulates that the maximum aggregate sick leave which can be allowed an officer, who is not hospitalized, during any period of 12 months shall be 42 calendar days," he said.
On account of overshooting the maximum number of days allowed a public officer, Mr. Fagbemi reasoned that the situation requires the appropriate statutory entities to activate the provisions contained in Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution.
"President Buhari’s absence from duties January 19 – March 10 and May 7 – until date, June 26, 2017, can no longer be justified under the laws of Nigeria. This is because of the need to apply the 1999 Constitution imposed obligations, which President Buhari and all those occupying statutory offices swore to, uphold and protect," he argued.
He added that it is now time for the cabal around the President to stop ridiculing President Muhammadu Buhari.
The activities of the cabal, he noted, are fast eroding the credibility and integrity of President Buhari. The scholar commended President Buhari for complying with the spirit and letters of the constitution, particularly, Section 145, by transmitting letters to the National Assembly when traveling out of the country and relinquishing powers to his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Mr. Fagbemi is of the view that Nigerians are not disappointed in the President, but in the cabal around him, which he said has mismanaged the Presidency.
He wondered why members of the cabal have failed to provide a live audio-visual platform for the President to address Nigerians.
"Nigerians are no longer impressed with transmitted letters purportedly originating from him. It is time to bring to an end the adopted socio-political management of cabal politics and the media spin," he said.
He urged the All Progressives Congress (APC) to live up to the dictates of what the it's belief that Nigeria is greater than any individual or the sum of her federating units.
Mr. Fagbemi slammed President Buhari's media aides for adopting opaque communication strategies that promote political intrigues around their principal's health. He urged them to pay attention to the fact that President Buhari is subject to the country's legal and policy frameworks and warned them to desist from interjectory media releases, social media posts and media interviews that run contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
To keep doing that, he explained, carries the unintended consequences of triggering needless socio-political controversies.
The scholar maintained that the country's extant Public Service Rules apply to all officers except where they conflict with specific terms approved by the Federal Government and written into the contract of employment or letters of appointment. "In so far as the holders of the offices of the President, Vice-President, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justices of the Supreme Court and any other similar organs that derive their appointments from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are concerned, these Rules apply only to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in so far as their conditions of service and any other law applicable to these officers are concerned," said Mr. Fagbemi.
He dismissed the view that the rules conflict with the constitution, arguing that they further reinforce the need for compliance and activation of the provisions of Section 144 of the Constitution.
"Chapter 7 of the PSR treated exhaustively issues pertaining to the medicals of all public officers. It provides for procedures, benefits, and sanctions. This chapter explains why the Nigerian state has had to cover the cost of the President’s travel, treatment, and upkeep, the deployment of the presidential aircraft, personal aides (security and support) while in the course of medical leave. The chapter provides the base for catering for the travels of the spouse of the President, amongst others," he added.
He maintained that President Buhari acted in deference to PSR 070301 by activating Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution.
PSR 070301 stipulates that when a public officer is ill and unable to report for duty, and he should in writing or by any other means of communication, inform the appropriate authority of his lengthy absence from duty on the ground of illness. The President's last correspondence to the National Assembly, the expert noted, stated that his doctors would determine the duration of his stay on medical leave. This, he said, is in order pending the provision of appropriate certificates provided for by this rule.
Mr. Fagbemi commended the National Assembly for stabilizing the country. However, he maintained that having
been absent for so long, the President should be made to appear before a medical board with a view to ascertain whether he/she should be invalidated from service.
"Any period of absence on the ground of ill-health in excess of the prescribed aggregate will be without pay and will not be reckoned for purpose of increment for a pension. An officer who is incapacitated as a result of an injury sustained in the course of his official duties shall be entitled to draw full emolument until he/she is discharged from sick leave or permanently invalidated," he stated.