There was a mild drama on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday after a point of order was raised that there was a vacuum in government because Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was not in the country.
The acting president is currently attending the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Senate, upon resumption from its 3 weeks break, received a communication from Professor Osinbajo, seeking the confirmation of Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, as the Director General of National Lottery Regulatory Commission.
Due to the fact that the acting president had earlier been quoted to have said that the President was empowered to make some appointments without seeking legislative approval as provided in Section 171 of the Constitution, the lawmakers, however, subjected the letter to deliberations.
Senator Eyinanya Abaribe (Abia South), then raised a motion that the country had no President or Acting President at the moment, adding that, President Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo were neither in the country, as at the time.
According to him, there was serious problem in the country because “we have nobody in Nigeria who is at the head of the government”.
“I simply want to bring to the attention of this chamber and all Nigerians and to ask the question, the acting president is the person who is at the head of government now, but we have a serious problem in Nigeria today. We have nobody in Nigeria who is at the head of the government,” he added.
“The law and the procedure and all the laws in Nigeria states that you cannot have a vacuum. Today the acting president is outside the country and so there is a vacuum.”
His opinion was greeted with a counter point, coming through order 53 rule 4 of the Senate standing rules, by Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central).
“Mr President, my distinguished colleagues, it is the abuse of out sensibilities and that of Nigerians everywhere to make the assertion that there is no head of government in Nigeria and that there is a vacuum in the leadership of Nigeria,” Marafa said.
“The constitution is very clear. If the president is out of the country, the constitution is clear as to who is the head of government. If the acting president is out of the country, the senate president is the next in the line of succession.
“You should desist from making this unwarranted remarks.”
In his response, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the matter Abaribe brought was not in line with what was being discussed.
“He came under order 53 (4). This matter senator Abaribe brought out, as eloquently as being delivered is not in one with the discussion that we have now,” Saraki said.
“So, we can have another day for that if need be. But according to our rules, it is not in line with our discussion. I have no choice but to rule the matter out of order.”