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Nigeria’s leadership vacuum: president Tinubu’s absence raises concerns



President Tinubu's visit to Senegal - reasons, implications

In an unexpected turn of events, both President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima narrowly avoided travelling out of the country simultaneously, thus preventing a potential power vacuum at Aso Rock.

Before Shettima’s planned trip to the United States of America, concerns had been mounting over Tinubu’s whereabouts one week after his official visit to Saudi Arabia for the special World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting.

Tinubu, who had attended the summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on April 29, 2024, had not returned to Nigeria, leaving many questioning his extended absence.

Before the WEF summit, Tinubu had embarked on an official trip to the Netherlands, where he engaged in high-level discussions with the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, and met with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

As Nigerians continued to speculate about Tinubu’s prolonged absence, Vice President Shettima was scheduled to travel to Dallas, USA, to represent the president at the 2024 US-Africa Business Summit.

This summit, hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa, aimed to bring together political and business leaders from Africa, the US, and beyond for high-level dialogues and networking sessions.

However, in a last-minute development, Shettima cancelled his planned trip, citing issues with the aircraft. This decision averted the scenario where both the president and vice president would be absent from the country simultaneously.

Amid Tinubu’s continued absence, concerns were raised by rights activist and lawyer, Deji Adeyanju, who criticized the government for its lack of transparency and accountability. Adeyanju highlighted the importance of leadership presence and expressed frustration over the apparent disregard for the Nigerian electorate.

Furthermore, Adeyanju criticized the National Assembly for its perceived failure to provide checks and balances, accusing it of being subservient to the presidency.

“There is no National Assembly, one that is headed by Akpabio is that a National Assembly? That is just a department in the Villa, a department in the office of the Chief of Staff. The National Assembly has been reduced to a department in the Office of the Chief of Staff. That is why the president does not rate them. A National Assembly that says anything the president wants could serve as a check and balance?

Similarly, another rights activist lawyer, Madubuachi Idam, emphasized the constitutional implications of the president and vice president’s simultaneous absence. Idam argued that such a scenario constituted an abdication of duties and called for accountability through impeachment proceedings.

“The constitution says if for any reason the president is not available to discharge the functions of his office, the office of the vice president steps into his shoes and carries out the functions of that office.

“Now, when the president and his vice are not present to discharge the functions of that office, it’s an anomaly, it’s an irresponsible act.

However, former spokesman of the defunct Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization, Daniel Bwala, defended Tinubu’s absence, stating that the president could effectively govern from anywhere in the world as long as he adhered to the constitution.

“The President @officialABAT is in charge of the country and can govern from anywhere in the world whether the Vice President is also in Nigeria or not. Aso Villa is not a block industry and the President is not a bricklayer. Read Section 5 of the Constitution.”

Lawrence is a dynamic digital journalist known for his expertise in creating SEO-focused content that drives business success. Alongside his journalism career, he also serves as an AI tutor, leveraging his knowledge to educate and empower others in the field. Lawrence graduated from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic with an HND in Mass Communication and has had his work referenced in Wikipedia and various online media outlets.