A constitutional lawyer, Sebastine Hon, SAN, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari can appoint himself as Nigeria’s minister of petroleum.
The president’s self appointment as minister of petroleum, according to Hon, is moral, lawful, constitutional and valid.
This is coming against the background of the arguments over the recent self appointment by the president of himself as minister of petroleum.
Arguments have been made that it is unconstitutional for President Buhari to do so.
Hon however said that the framers of the Nigerian constitution were wise in making it so, because the president of Nigeria is unlike the prime minister of a country under the Parliamentary system of government, who is personally (and not collectively) liable for the success or failure of his government. “Indeed, President Buhari has taken a monumental risk by offering himself to serve as minister of the potentially combustible petroleum ministry, which has always come under harsh and pinpoint scrutiny by not only Nigerians but members of the international community as well,” he said.
Hon said: “Section 5(a) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, has provided for the executive functions of the federation to be performed by the president “directly or through the vice-president and ministers of the government of the federation or officers in the public service of the federation.”
He also said that the “or” separating “directly” and “through” in the paragraph means Mr. President is at liberty, subject to other provisions of the constitution, to assign any ministry to himself or to assign it to the vice-president, a minister or any of the other persons named in the paragraph.
This position, according to Hon, is reinforced by the provisions of sections 130(2) and 148(1) of the constitution.
While Section 130(2) has made Mr. President “the chief executive of the federation,” Section 148(1) provides that the president “may, in his discretion,” assign to the vice-president or any minister of the government” any executive functions.
“This clearly has created absolute discretion in favour of the president either to assign to himself such executive functions or to delegate them to his ministers.
“Indeed, Section 147(1) of the constitution provides that there “shall be such offices of ministers of the government of the federation as may be established by the president.