Why President Buhari is Qualified To Be Minister of Petroleum Resources—Obono-Obla - Welcome to Uju Ayalogu's Blog

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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Why President Buhari is Qualified To Be Minister of Petroleum Resources—Obono-Obla

Why President Buhari is Qualified To Be Minister of Petroleum Resources—Obono-Obla

Chief Okoi Obono-obla

On the 5 October 2015 I wrote an essay titled ” Why President Buhari is qualified to be Minister of Petroleum Resources published in online news outfit known as Abusidiqu in response to the view held in recent circles that the President was wrong to appoint himself Minister of Petroleum Resources .

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This issue has come to the front burner arising out of the recent disagreement between the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kaichukwu and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Baru over governance policy .

It is axiomatic that Nigeria operates the Presidential System of Government.

In 1977, the Constituent Assembly convened by then Military Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo to debate the framework for a future Constitution for the country and the return to democratic civil rule discarded the Westminster parliamentary system (which the country inherited from the United Kingdom at independence in 1960) and adopted a Presidential System modelled after American style of Presidentialism.

Consequently, the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria adopted the Presidential System of Government with the President vested with the executive authority of the Federation as both the Head of State and Government.

The same position is applicable to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

Let me try to define what a Presidential System of government in a simple manner is so that everyone reading this essay will understand and appreciate. A Presidential System of government is a system of government where the Head of Government is also the Head of State and leads an Executive Arm of Government that is separate from the Legislative Arm.

Under the Nigerian Constitution, the President is the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation. Section 130 subsections 1 & 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 ( as amended) provides that (1) ” There shall be for the Federation a President.

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(2) The President shall be the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Federation” It goes without saying that the President is the repository of the executive authority of the Federation.

Section 5 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(Supra) provide thus: “shall be vested in the President and may subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly, be exercised by him either directly or through the Vice-President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation” .

On the other hand, there are two other Arms of Government namely the Legislative and the Judicial Arms or Branches. The President and any member of the Executive branch of government is barred by the Constitution from belonging to either the Legislative or Judicial Arm of government.

Conversely, any member of the National Assembly that is appointed a Minister must first resign his or her membership of the National Assembly in order to take up the ministerial appointment.

Ministers are appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate. So there is nothing in the Constitution barring President Muhammadu Buhari from appointing himself the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

The position canvassed by some people that it is Unconstitutional for President Buhari to appoint himself Minister of Petroleum Resources is therefore curious.

There is even a precedent in the country. During the Obasanjo Presidency (1999 – 2007), the Minister of Petroleum Resources was President Olusegun Obasanjo himself.

It goes without saying that constitutionally and otherwise President Buhari is eminently qualified to be the Minister of Petroleum Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

President Buhari has experience spanning nearly forty years in the Oil and Gas Industry.

He was a Minister of Petroleum Resources and Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC between 1977 to 1979 and during this period the Petroleum Industry experienced exponential and phenomenal growth ever seen in the country.

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The position taken by some lawyers that President Buhari cannot be Minister because he is confirmed by the Senate as such is of no constitutional moment. President Buhari needn’t not be confirm by the Senate !

There is no constitutional provision barring the President from appointing himself as Minister. A Minister is not the Chief Executive of Ministry which he or she is assigned .

A Minister is an agent of the President who is the Chief Executive and Head of Government . Ministers in a presidential system are individually and collectively responsible to the President .

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