Regular exercise ‘best for mental health’ – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45116607
Nothing is as inevitable as a disaster whose time has come”! I do grave injustice to Victor Hugo but this tweaking of his deep and enduring observation, (also referred to as Tussman’s law) captures the disaster that was bound inevitably to befall the APC given its specialised capacity to promise, its amazing indifference to human suffering, its display of hypocrisy, and its impotence and sterility when it came to delivery.
Aspects of this debacle from the brush of cartoonists.
BREAKING NEWS NUGGET- PRESS STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, ON 31ST JULY, 2018.
I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
This is not a decision that I have made lightly. If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.
Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine. However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigerians would be best served.
While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasise that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.
They have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded. All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion.
The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party. Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere.
I have had the privilege to lead the Nigerian legislature in the past three years as the President of the Senate and the Chairman of the National Assembly. The framers of our constitution envisage a degree of benign tension among the three arms of government if the principle of checks and balances must continue to serve as the building block of our democracy. In my role as the head of the legislature, and a leader of the party, I have ensured that this necessary tension did not escalate at any time in such a way that it could encumber Executive function or correspondingly, undermine the independence of the legislature. Over the years, I have made great efforts in the overall interest of the country, and in spite of my personal predicament, to manage situations that would otherwise have resulted in unsavoury consequences for the government and the administration. My colleagues in the Senate will bear testimony to this.
However, what we have seen is a situation whereby every dissent from the legislature was framed as an affront on the executive or as part of an agenda to undermine the government itself. The populist notion of anti-corruption became a ready weapon for silencing any form of dissent and for framing even principled objection as “corruption fighting back”. Persistent onslaught against the legislature and open incitement of the people against their own representatives became a default argument in defence of any short-coming of the government in a manner that betrays all too easily, a certain contempt for the Constitution itself or even the democracy that it is meant to serve.
Unfortunately, the self-serving gulf that has been created between the leadership of the two critical arms of government based on distrust and mutual suspicion has made any form of constructive engagement impossible. Therefore, anything short of a slavish surrender in a way that reduces the legislature to a mere rubber stamp would not have been sufficient in procuring the kind of rapprochement that was desired in the interest of all. But I have no doubt in my mind, that to surrender this way is to be complicit in the subversion of the institution that remains the very bastion of our democracy. I am a democrat. And I believe that anyone who lays even the most basic claim to being a democrat will not accept peace on those terms; which seeks to compromise the very basis of our existence as the parliament of the people.
The recent weeks have witnessed a rather unusual attempts to engage with some of these most critical issues at stake. Unfortunately, the discord has been allowed to fester unaddressed for too long, with dire consequences for the ultimate objective of delivering the common good and achieving peace and unity in our country. Any hope of reconciliation at this point was therefore very slim indeed. Most of the horses had bolted from the stable.
The emergence of a new national party executives a few weeks ago held out some hopes, however slender. The new party chairman has swung into action and did his best alongside some of the Governors of APC and His Excellency, the Vice President. I thank them for all their great efforts to save the day and achieve reconciliation. Even though I thought these efforts were coming late in the day, but seeing the genuine commitment of these gentlemen, I began to think that perhaps it was still possible to reconsider the situation.
However, as I have realized all along, there are some others in the party leadership hierarchy, who did not think dialogue was the way forward and therefore chose to play the fifth columnists. These individuals went to work and ensured that they scuttled the great efforts and the good intentions of these aforementioned leaders of the party. Perhaps, had these divisive forces not thrown the cogs in the wheel at the last minutes, and in a manner that made it impossible to sustain any trust in the process, the story today would have been different.
For me, I leave all that behind me. Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
When we left the PDP to join the then nascent coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, we left in a quest for justice, equity and inclusion; the fundamental principles on which the PDP was originally built but which it had deviated from. We were attracted to the APC by its promise of change. We fought hard along with others and defeated the PDP.
In retrospect, it is now evident that the PDP has learnt more from its defeat than the APC has learnt from its victory. The PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realized that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realized that inclusion, justice and equity are basic precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted.
I am excited by the new efforts, which seeks to build the reborn PDP on the core principles of promoting democratic values; internal democracy; accountability; inclusion and national competitiveness; genuine commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers; and an abiding belief in zoning of political and elective offices as an inevitable strategy for managing our rich diversity as a people of one great indivisible nation called Nigeria.
What we have all agreed is that a deep commitment to these ideals were not only a demonstration of our patriotism but also a matter of enlightened self-interest, believing that our very survival as political elites of this country will depend on our ability to earn the trust of our people and in making them believe that, more than anything else, we are committed to serving the people.
What the experience of the last three years have taught us is that the most important task that we face as a country is how to reunite our people. Never before had so many people in so many parts of our country felt so alienated from their Nigerianness. Therefore, we understand that the greatest task before us is to reunite the county and give everyone a sense of belonging regardless of region or religion.
Every Nigerian must have an instinctive confidence that he or she will be treated with justice and equity in any part of the country regardless of the language they speak or how they worship God. This is the great task that trumps all. Unless we are able to achieve this, all other claim to progress no matter how defined, would remain unsustainable.
This is the task that I am committing myself to and I believe that it is in this PDP, that I will have the opportunity to play my part. It is my hope that the APC will respect the choice that I have made as my democratic right, and understand that even though we will now occupy a different political space, we do not necessarily become enemies unto one another.
Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON
President of the Senate
*Professor Ben Nwabueze, Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), has faulted the June 12 declaration made by President Muhammadu Buhari.*
In a statement, he personally signed, Nwabueze described the declaration as “unconstitutional, a masterstroke of mischief and insincerity and a deceitful contrivance”.
The full Statement:
In a special press statement signed by himself personally, which is unprecedented, President Buhari made the following momentous announcement:
“For the past 18 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29th, as Democracy Day. That was the date when for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government. The first time this happened was on October 1st, 1979.
But in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this Administration, June 12th, 1993, was far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29th or even the October 1st.
June 12th, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence. The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then Military Government does not distract from the democratic credentials of that process.
Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12th will be celebrated as Democracy Day. Therefore, Government has decided to award posthumously the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12th, 1993 cancelled elections. His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON. Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualization of the June election and indeed for Democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, is to be awarded a GCON posthumously.
The commemoration and investiture will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29th as a National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day”.
LEGAL ISSUES ARISING FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DECLARATION
The President’s Declaration raises several issues concerning, first, the intention behind it, whether it is motivated by the public interest or by a political desire to secure the votes of Nigerians in the 2019 election, especially the votes of people of the South-West or to sow the seed of division among the members of the National Assembly in order to scuttle the threat to impeach him or to throw the country into turmoil or to smear the polity with the taint of illegality. A motive of mischief seems evident on the face of the Declaration. It is indeed a masterstroke of mischief and insincerity, a deceitful contrivance, suddenly and mischievously trumped up to rescue his dying image three years after his installation as President.
But the question of primary interest to us here concerns the legal aspects of the President’s Declaration, which raise three issues of some intricacy , viz (a) whether what he calls the cancellation of the June 12 election by the then Military Government is binding legally on him and Nigerians generally, or putting it differently, whether as President he has the power or competence to overturn or disregard the cancellation without an Act of the National Assembly repealing it; (b) the legal effects of the cancellation; and (c) whether the President’s 6th June Declaration does not require, as a condition for its effectiveness in law, that the results of the June 12 election should have been officially announced and Chief Abiola officially declared its winner.
Binding force of the annulment of the June 12 election by a Decree of the Federal Military Government (FMG).
It is as indisputable that a presidential election was, as a matter of fact, held on June 12, 1993 as that the said election was, as a matter both of fact and law, annulled by a Decree of the Federal Military Government (FMG) Decree No. 61 of 1993. The binding force, or rather the supremacy, of Decrees of the FMG has a history which is appropriate to recall here. The issue of the binding force or supremacy of Decrees was settled with finality 48 years ago by the Federal Military Government (Supremacy and Enforcement of Powers) Decree 1970 re-enacted by Decree 13 of 1984 made by Gen Buhari as the then Head of the FMG. (He, Gen Buhari, enacted 37 Decrees during his one year rule in 1984 as Head of the FMG). Even the 1999 Constitution from which he derives his authority as President to make the June 6 Declaration is the product of a Decree, Decree 24 of 1999 to which that Constitution is scheduled. The 1999 Constitution itself, in its section 315(4)(d), recognises the annulment Decree 61 of 1993 as an existing law. So President Buhari has no moral right or justification to disregard or disdain Decree 61 of 1993 or to do things as please him, as if that law does not exist.
Nigeria is or is supposed to be a law-governed state, a state of law where the Rule of Law reigns and governs not only the lives and affairs of people in society, but also the actions of government. It is an axiomatic principle, accepted nearly by all, that democracy cannot meaningfully exist or function without the Rule of Law any more than it can meaningfully exist or function without Justice. Nigeria itself cannot exist without the Rule of Law – and Justice too.
Of the two cardinal principles of governance, the Rule of Law is more fundamental and overriding, since the Justice talked about is justice according to law. The alternative to the Rule of Law is anarchy and the ruin of communal life. Respect for the Rule of Law must not therefore be sacrificed to the need for Justice. We must strive to pursue and maintain both subject to the more overriding demands of the Rule of Law.
Nigeria, our dear country, should not be turned into a state where the President can, in his unfettered whim, set aside the law or do things contrary to the law; his June 6 2018 Declaration clearly affronts the law. The annulment of the June 12 1993 election is admittedly loathesome to millions of Nigerians because of its injustice, inhumanity and its culmination in the sad death of its presumed winner, Chief Abiola; its error has been acknowledged and duly apologised for by its author, Gen Babangida. The annulment should therefore be set aside, but that should be done in due form of law, i.e. in a manner required by law, meaning by an Act of the National Assembly, not by the President’s unilateral Declaration unbacked by an enabling law. The process of getting an enabling law enacted may take more time than is agreeable, but it is better to follow the process dictated by law.
Legal effects of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election by a Decree of the FMG.
The legal effects of nullity are authoritatively stated by Lord Denning in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in an appeal from the West African Court of Appeal in Macfoy v. United Africa Co. Ltd  3 WLR 1405 at pp. 1409 – 1410:
“If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad, but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of the Court to set it aside. It is automatically null and void without more ado, though it is sometimes convenient to have the court declare it to be so. And every proceeding which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse.” (emphasis supplied).
Lord Denning’s statement of the law on the point was echoed by Oputa JSC in Adejumo v. Ayantegba  3 NWLR (pt. 110) 417 at p. 451. Said he:
“If a transaction is void, it is in law a nullity, not only bad, but incurably bad and nothing can be founded on it, for having no life of its own, it cannot vivify anything.” (emphasis supplied).
The legal implication is thus that an act or transaction which is a nullity is in law regarded as having no existence or never to have come into existence at all. Both Lord Denning M.R. in Macfoy v. United Africa Co. Ltd  3 WLR 1409 – 1410 and Oputa JSC in Adejumo v. Ayantegbe  3 NWLR (Pt 110) 417 at page 451 describe it as amounting to “nothing”. Its non-existence or nothingness arises from operation of law and does not depend on a court’s decision declaring it null and void, which only re-affirms and reinforces its inherent nullity. The dictionary definition is at one with the law on this. Collins English Dictionary defines “nullify”, and “void” as “having no effect or existence”. “Nullity” is defined in New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language as “nothingness”.
It follows that the annulled June 12 election, deemed in law not to have taken place and to have no existence and therefore to amount to nothing, cannot vivify or give life to anything; June 12 cannot be declared Democracy Day and a public holiday, and Chief Abiola the “presumed” winner of the June 12 election and his running mate, Amb. Kingibe, cannot be awarded the national honour of GCFR and GCON respectively based on their presumed victory in the June 12 election. Both the declaration and the award are illegal, null and void; the annulment Decree, No. 61 of 1993, an existing law under section 315(4)(d) of the 1999 Constitution, must first be repealed – with effect from a date before June 12, 1993 – before the declaration and the award can legally or lawfully be made. The point being made here, and on which we insist, is that, as a country committed to respect for the Rule of Law, the law should be duly followed and not disregarded, as if we are still in a military dictatorship.
Whether the President’s 6th June Declaration does not require, as a condition for its effectiveness, that the results of the June 12 election should have been officially announced and Chief Abiola officially declared its winner
The repeal of the annulment Decree, No. 61 of 1993, does not dispose of all the legal issues arising from President Buhari’s 6th June 2018 momentous Declaration. It is not enough for the purposes of the law to presume Chief Abiola as the winner of the June 12, 1993 election, whatever that means. To presume something means, according to its dictionary definition, to “suppose or believe without examination; to assume beforehand”. The results of the June 12, 1993 election should have been officially announced and Chief Abiola should have been officially declared its winner to form a legally valid basis for the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day to be henceforth observed and celebrated as a public holiday in the country, and before Chief Abiola can be awarded and invested with the national honour of GCFR, the highest honour that is reserved for a President of Nigeria. He cannot be President-elect, which is necessary to qualify him to be so treated, unless the results of the election have been officially announced and he has been officially declared elected.
The law is clear and emphatic on the matter. Section 70 of the Electoral Act in force today (June 11, 2018) provides:
“In an election to the office of the President or Governor whether or not contested and in any contested election to any other elective office, the result shall be ascertained by counting the votes cast for each candidate and [the candidate that satisfied] the provisions of sections 133, 134 and 179 of the Constitution……..shall be _declared_ elected by the appropriate Returning Officer”;
The word “declared” is italicized to emphasise that a candidate “deemed duly elected” under section 179 of the Constitution must formally be “declared elected by the appropriate returning officer” under section 70 of the Act.
The National Assembly has proposed that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) should now formally announce the results of the June 12 1993 election and declare Chief Abiola its winner. This proposal raises the question whether INEC, constituted under the 1999 Constitution (section 153), has the competence to announce the results of an election that took place 25 years ago, and declare a candidate under it the winner, so as to constitute him President-elect. The power of INEC, as conferred on it by paragraph 15 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, is power, among other things, “to organise, undertake and supervise” presidential and other listed elections. By its terms, the power is power to organize, undertake and supervise elections in the present and in the future; it does not authorize or enable the Commission to do anything in relation to an election that took place in the past – 25 years ago – and organized and conducted by a differently constituted Electoral Commission. It may be that under the residual clause of paragraph 15 above authorizing INEC to “carry out such other functions as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly”, the Assembly may make a law enabling INEC in the behalf. Even so, the problem will still remain as to how the provision of section 70 of the Electoral Act is to be complied with, having regard to the specificity of the words “shall be declared elected by the appropriate Returning Officer”; the reference is to the particular returning officer involved in or who took part in the conduct of the particular election.
President Buhari’s 6th June 2018 Declaration disdains the law of the land in other respects. The sacroscanctity and supremacy of the Rule of Law, as a principle in the government of society, need to be reiterated. Although not expressly enshrined by name in our Constitution, as is done in some of the modern constitutions in the world, like the Constitutions of Romania and Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, all three adopted in 1991 after the collapse of communism in the 1989 – 90 world-wide democratic revolution, the Rule of Law is embodied and incorporated in our Constitution as an inarticulate major premise, to borrow the pithy phrase of the great Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, the supremacy of the Constitution, as provided in its section 1(1), enures, by extension, to the Rule of Law, as incorporated in it as an inarticulate major premise, overriding any action or declaration of government that is inconsistent with the principle: section 1(3).
The question again arises whether the posthumous awards of the national honours of GCFR and GCON to Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi respectively accord or are consistent with the law of the land – National Honours Act. The Act does not, by its express provisions, authorize posthumous awards, nor do those provisions give any indication that they contemplate posthumous awards. The indication is indeed to the contrary; it (the indication) comes from the provision that “a person”, meaning a living, not a dead person, “shall not be eligible for appointment to any rank of an Order unless he is a citizen of Nigeria”, and that “a person shall be appointed to a particular rank of an Order when he receives from the President in person at an investiture held for the purpose (a) the insignia appropriate for that rank; and (b) an instrument under the hand of the President and the public seal of the Federation declaring him to be appointed to that rank”.
The words “when he receives from the President in person” exclude posthumous awards, a view that derives support from the fact that no posthumous award had ever been made in the past to any one before the awards to Chief Abiola and Chief Fawehinmi. There is, however, a provision in the Act that seems to give a lot of leeway to the President. It says : “The President may, by warrant, make provision for the award of titles of honour, decorations and dignities”. It may be that posthumous awards are not authorized by the Act as a matter of policy decision. If so the Act needs to be amended to change the policy.
President Buhari could not have been more disdainful, and more careless, he could not have made a greater mockery, of the Rule of Law than by his announcement on June 6, 2018 of the decision of the Federal Government that “henceforth June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day”, knowing, as he well does, that May 29 is enacted by law, the Public Holidays Act, as Democracy Day, and that that could not be changed to June 12, except by amendment of the Act, not by mere presidential Declaration; and that his wishes, intentions and whims, however pure and benevolent, are not law, as in the days of the absolutist military dictatorship when laws could be made simply by word of mouth, later to be put in written form by Decree or Edict. It is incredible that, knowing all this but still believing himself to be an absolute ruler, he went ahead to organize the farce of commemoration ceremony on June 12 at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa. His perception of himself as absolute ruler is antithetical to constitutional democracy, and constitutes a danger to the country. He should be made to shed that perception of himself.
Culled from The Cable, June 15, 2018
The hand that signed the paper by Dylan Thomas