NIGERIA’LL NEVER PROGRESS UNLESS IT’S RESTRUCTURED –ROBERT CLARKE
By Christy Anyanwu
Robert Clarke (SAN) recently granted an interview to Sunday Sun on the state of the nation. The octogenarian who has been on vacation in the UK came back during the week and bared his mind on some issues especially concerning Mr President’s health.
What message do you have for Nigeria now?
As a Christian, I believe in Psalm 23 which says “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil for thou art with me…”. Nigerians need to pray and recite Psalm 23 everyday now because it looks like we are walking in the wilderness of death. I’m not a soothsayer, but I can foresee that very soon, very soon, Nigeria is going to be embroiled in a crisis if Buhari’s health doesn’t improve. Nigeria is going to be embroiled especially in a succession palaver but there should be no need for it. Like I said, ethnicity and religion are the two most damaging aspects of our life in Nigeria and they will now play out should Buhari’s health deteriorate. We were lucky during the time of Yar’ Adua, Obasanjo played a significant role, whether bad or good depending on which side of the divide you are but he was able to rally the country round to accept Jonathan easily. We need a strong man like Obasanjo to prevent crisis. Nigeria has to be careful if the worst happens to Buhari which I don’t pray for but it’s inevitable for any human being. We should not make the same mistakes we made during Jonathan’s time. We should ensure that Vice President takes over as President if Buhar is incapacitated.
What’s your take on the President’s sick leave? Some believe he should just step aside for Osinbajo to rule instead?
As human beings, we can be sick at any time.There are certain sicknesses that are not life threatening and yet will be a nuisance but nevertheless the constitution says where a president is incapable of performing the functions of his office then at that stage it can be determined whether he is fit or not fit to continue. If the illness has not impaired his capacity to function in office, he should continue.
What’s your take on the proposed restructuring of Nigeria?
I have always said it, we can never make progress until Nigeria is restructured and it shouldn’t be on the basis of ethnicity. What I’m saying essentially is that the system of governance should be changed. If we are retaining the presidential system then let’s do it the South African way.
What’s your take on the controversy surrounding Ibrahim Magu’s appointment as EFCC Chairman?
Section 5 of the Nigeria constitution says that the president is vested with all executive powers. The EFCC is within the purview of the executive powers vested in Mr. president and therefore, the appointment of the EFCC chairman is also vested in Mr. President, subject to the approval of the Senate. Where the Senate refuses or decides not to confirm a nominee, the president has the power to allow that nominee to stay in an acting capacity because the constitution has vested in him under Section 5 the power to exercise all executive powers. In Magu’s case, one thing about him is his tenacity and ability to get results. He has at least been able to do this in his acting capacity. Mr. President can still recommend him again for approval by the Senate. Many of my colleagues don’t know where to hang this legality of asking him to stay in acting capacity, because there is no law that says a chairman must be appointed at any given time. If somebody is acting, he is acting, the only difference is that he’s not the chairman; he’s only an acting chairman. Mr. President can still retain Magu as acting chairman of EFCC under Section 5 of the constitution which gives him all the executive powers under the law. So, he’s not doing anything wrong.
While you were away in the UK, you heard about the release of 82 Chibok girls. What’s your reaction on that?