President Muhammadu Buhari said during a question and answer session in Washington that constituencies that gave him 97% of their vote can’t be expected to be treated the same as those that only gave him 5%. He claimed this “in all honesty”, and that it was “political reality”.
He also thought this was “fair” as such constituencies fought to get the government in power.
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Those comments are clearly unconstitutional. Buhari may not be aware that unconstitutional behaviour is grounds for impeachment. He has history of acting unconstitutionally. He overthrew a constitutional government in the 1980s. In the early 2000s he was a strong advocate for the extension of Sharia law beyond its constitutional provisions. He also claimed in Washington that we did not have a “governance framework”, ignoring the fact that our constitution was clealy a governance framework!
As president, after taking an oath of office on May 29 in which he swore to uphold the constitution, he has shown a clear disregard for the “supreme law of the land”
Chapter 4 section 42 of the constitution states: (1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
This essentially means that no one should suffer or gain an advantage or privileges in terms of government action on the basis of political opinions. Voting is an expression of such opinion.
The Constitution also states in Chapter 2 section 15(4) The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.
Buhari’s response was to a question about the Niger Delta, the amnesty programme and so on. His answer was about loyalty to his party and no attempt at fostering loyalty to the nation.
His comments also violate this section: 16(2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring:
(a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development;
(b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good
Rather than promote balanced economic development and serve the common good, Buhari was keen to introduce discriminatory treatment according to how constituencies voted.
He claimed this was “fair” and the “political reality”. The reality is that he is a man clearly out of his depth, he has not bothered to read the constitution he swore to uphold, and continues to carry on like the rule of law does not matter to him.