1st September, 2022
FANI KAYODE’S TONGUE-IN-CHEEK RESPONSE TO OKOWA’S COMMENTS ON SHETTIMA AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Our attention has been drawn to a write-up by Chief Femi Fani Kayode, FFK, responding to His Excellency Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Vice-Presidential Candidate’s comments on the unambiguous and unequivocal declaration by the All Progressives Congress APC, Vice-Presidential Candidate, that he will take over Security while Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would be in charge of the Economy if they and the APC win the 2023 presidential election.
We would have restrained ourselves from joining issues with the learned FFK, especially after reading his kind but honest and very correct words about Governor Okowa viz: “…Governor Okowa, who is ordinarily a level-headed, cerebral, decent, restrained and well-exposed man and who I have always had immense respect for”… but we are constrained by his “amazement that Governor Okowa would consider Senator Shettima’s declaration to be “unconstitutional” or “absurd”.
To set the records straight, Senator Kashim Shettima, who was a panelist at the just concluded Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos, said he would personally lead the Nigerian military against criminals while his principal, Bola Tinubu, will oversee the economy.
His words: “I have been in the theatre of conflicts for 18 years, I will lead the troops, my principal is an economy wizard who has transformed Lagos into the third largest economy in Africa. He will concentrate on the economy.”
“By God’s grace, I will handle the security, and not only handle the security, but I will also lead the troops to battle across the length and breadth of this country,” he said.
There is nowhere in the above quote where Senator Shettima said or claimed that he hopes that the matter of Security will be DELEGATED to him or that he would be “assigned” the responsibility, as Junior Minister of Labour and APC Presidential spokesman Festus Keyamo posited in his own rejoinder to Governor Okowa’s comments. Infact Shettima uses the phrase “By God’s Grace”, which is definitively suggestive of the fact that the decision is already a foregone conclusion; a ‘fait accompli’ if they win the election.
What is even more worrisome is that Shettima’s declaration also deliberately and cynically implies that the discharge of this critical national responsibility will not be at the instance of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, but by Divine appointment and delegation and this is quite frightening, and a clear indication of the magnitude of impunity with which the APC Vice-Presidential Candidate will treat his principal, if they win the election. God forbid!
For the avoidance of doubt, this is what Governor Okowa said: ”I don’t want to talk about their policies. If the Vice-President will take charge of security, is he now going to preside over security council meetings at the Federal level as the Commander-In-Chief? I don’t understand.. Because there is a Commander-In-Chief. Is there a reversal in position? I do not know. He (Shettima) can offer advise but I find it absurd how he speaks about, ‘I will take charge of this’. Perhaps they have agreed that he will be the Commander-In-Chief but I’m not in their party so I do not know…”
Section 130 (2) reads: “The President shall be the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation”.
Constitutionally the Vice-President has no role in national security. He has no power at all security-wise as long as the President lives and remains in office and like Governor Okowa pointed ‘the Vice- President can at best offer advise on security-related issues’ not take over fully.
The role the Constitution designates to the Vice-President is to serve as Acting President in the event of Presidential disability or succeed to the Presidency if the office is vacated. The Vice-President has no role designated with the military, except as Acting President, and presumably in an emergency requiring an immediate decision from the Commander-In-Chief.
There is only one Commander-In-Chief. The Vice-President cannot give orders to Service Chiefs, the Vice-President has no role in the Chain of Command, unless and until he (or she) becomes President in the event of the President’s incapacity to function.
And like the Spokesman of the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barr. Daniel Bwala rightly submits, Vice-Presidential Candidate Shettima’s comment is “a perfect picture of delusion of grandeur. Why would a civilian say he will lead the troops? If he is as passionate as he claimed, why didn’t he lead his troops as a Governor when the Chibok girls were kidnapped?
“As a sitting Governor, he ignored all security reports and the counsel against holding the 2014 May/June West African Examination Council (WAEC) at Chibok.
“And now, without crediting the statement to his principal, his statement means he is the de-facto President while Tinubu is just a placeholder. He gives an impression of insubordination and the kind of deceptive government APC intends to run if elected in 2023,” Bwala declared while speaking to a national Newspaper.
What FFK and others like Festus Keyamo who belong to his school of thought by flippantly dismissing with such pedestrian explanation and logical sophistry, Shettima’s premature arrogation of Presidential powers and authority to himself if he becomes Vice- President, is to surreptitiously set the tone and agenda for a well known Boko Haram sympathizer, if not one of it’s major sponsors, to be put in charge of our national security and by so doing take over the security apparatus and architecture of the country.
One shudders to even imagine what would happen to Nigeria with a nationally perceived Boko Haram sympathizer or even anyone closely linked or associated with insurgent and separatist tendencies and inclinations, wielding Executive and absolute power and authority over the security of the country.
And to address FFK’s precedent of Atiku Abubakar as Vice-President, taking control over the running and restoration of the economy which was assigned to him by OBJ whilst the President himself focused on foreign affairs and international relations, even the cerebral Fani Kayode, should know that the Vice- President is also the Chairman of National Economic Council and assigning him to take control of the economy is very well within his constitutional responsibilities, whether delegated to him or not.
In fact, the executive functions of the Nigerian Vice-President also includes participation in all cabinet meetings and, by statute, membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and although the Vice-President may take an active role in establishing policy in the Executive Branch by serving on such committees and councils, the relative power of the Nigerian Vice-President’s office depends upon the duties delegated by the President.
Senator Kashim Shettima committed an unpardonable “faux pas” by stating categorically that he will take charge of security while Tinubu takes charge of the Economy, if they win the Presidency and no amount of sweet-sounding rhetoric will wipe away the image (just like that of the man who wore sneakers with a complete suit and a bizarrely long red tie) of the kind of Government the APC is going to impose on Nigerians, if they by mistake, occupy Aso Rock.
Nigerians are wiser now and what Governor Ifeanyi Okowa did was to simply vocalize the fears and curiosity which Senator Kashim Shettima’s comments have provoked in the national polity. The fact remains that only PDP has the right attitude, the proper organizational structures, and the experience, dynamism, and wisdom to rescue Nigeria and manage the various suffocating and devastating challenges, including the security issue, which the present APC regime has imposed on Nigerians.
Dr. Ifeanyi M. Osuoza
State Publicity Secretary,
PDP, Delta State.