WEEKEND THOUGHTS: THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL CONUNDRUM


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In the Star Trek franchise Ghost Ship, Will T. Riker, the first officer of the fictional ship the U.S.S Enterprise sums up the dilemma of seconds-in-command everywhere. He tells the ship Counsellor Deana Troi, “If you look up the first officer in the marine dictionary, it says do not open until crisis mode.”
   This actually reminds me of president Goodluck Jonathan’s media chat last month in which he has asked about what measures were being taken on Boko Haram and the security threat in Nigeria, and he answered that  Boko Haram would not go away in a day simply because, the threat didn’t start in his tenure. Of course everybody knew there was little or no incidence of bombing before 2007 when the late Umar Musa Yar’adua became president of Nigeria, and Jonathan was the vice president then. The implication of the statement he made in that media chat was that he was not to blame, since he was not the person in charge, he was only the deputy. This brings me to the current impasse between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the FG negotiation team is said to be headed by the vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,  Namadi Sambo, however Goodluck Jonathan still seems to be the one doing all the talking. Mr Sambo it seems is permanently in a sort of “seen but never heard from” stasis field. One would expect that as a highly placed member of the PDP, he would have something to say on the current crisis within the party, but no, absolutely nothing at all from him. This set me thinking:  does the vice president really perform any function in a country? Do we even need a vice president in Nigeria at all given that it would be a matter of time before he would dissociate himself from his running mate’s policies like Atiku Abubakar did to Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007 and Jonathan did to Yar adua in the aforementioned media chat?
         People might argue that we need someone to take charge when the president is not around, but then anybody who saw the way Jonathan was easily sidelined during the Yar’adua sickness and death episode, would have second thoughts on that. As the turbulent transition period between Jonathan and Yar’adua and the treatment of Jonathan by Turai Yar’adua illustrates, vice presidents (or any deputy for that matter) have no real power,they are at best easily forgotten, superfluous, merely tolerated, and even sometimes resented relics from a time when kings used to lead their men into battle and they couldn’t be bothered with organizing battle tactics and running the government at the same time. However, it will really be unfair for me to blame Sambo too much, given that it is a fine line he has to tow to so that he doesn’t look like a usurper.  From what we have seen so far, it is safe to say that if he too ever becomes president of Nigeria, he would proceed as well to dissociate himself from the policies of Goodluck Jonathan.                                      
      The purpose of this piece is not to disparage Sambo’s character but personally  I feel the solution to this issue especially in Nigeria, is to remove the position of vice-president from the constitution. We could have  the Secretary to the Federal Government or maybe the Coordinating Minister of the Economy perform the function of president if the latter is absent (since  president no longer lead the country to battle and has a higher chance of coming back from wherever he goes to, and the present coordinating minister of the economy seems to have more autonomy than the Vice president anyway). I know only a few people will agree to this view, because the vice president of course serves some function which I have overlooked, but at least I feel it will save the country the huge amount of money being paid to someone who will invariably do little more than sit with his chin in his hands. 

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One thought on “WEEKEND THOUGHTS: THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL CONUNDRUM

  1. The office of the coordinating minister is illegal and alien to our constitution. This article should not be seen as supporting lawlesness.

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