By Austin Emaduku
In the matter of President Buhari’s illness and his prolong absence from office, Nigerian lawyers, especially the ones that like to pride themselves as civil rights lawyers and activists have regaled us with the constitutional provisions.
They have told us that as far as the law is concerned, the President can be away on sick leave for the whole of his four years tenure and he would have not have broken any law. They therefore assert that it is wrong to argue that the President owes the nation and those who elected him to rule over them a duty to declare his true state of health.
The position of the learned “legal luminaries” is that such arguments can only be put forward by ignorant and people unschooled in the fine details of the law; that the law is one thing and morality or ethics, which is a personal thing, is another; that the two cannot mix. They forget that the law is based and indeed issues from ethical values.
Such sterile legalistic interpretation of what the law is can only be as a result of ignorance of the very foundation upon which the law is built. This is one issue that has brought to the fore the foundational problems in the Nigerian education system. We indeed need a return to the basis in all things.
If I hadn’t gone to the university to study philosophy and jurisprudence as a core course for an entire academic session, I would have succumbed to these sterile legalistic opinions devoid of ethical values. But I cannot be fazed.
Let me leave readers with a brief quotation on the relationship between law and morality.
“Ethical values and legal principles are usually closely related, but ethical obligations typically exceed legal duties. In some cases, the law mandates ethical conduct. Examples of the application of law or policy to ethics include employment law, federal regulations, and codes of ethics.”
Nigerians elected President Buhari to rule over them for four years. It is understandable that as a human being, he may fall sick within the period and may require some time off to recuperate. He is however under moral and ethical obligation to tell those who elected him, if his state of health is going to make him incapable of performing these duties or keep him away from those duties for the whole of his tenure or such indeterminate period as to cause anxiety amongst the people.
This is morally and ethically wrong as there exist a contract between the President and those who elected him. No puerile quotations from any learned man, even if a senior advocate, can make this right in the face of morality and the law. The law is built on something and once you remove that foundation, it is no longer law.
So, lawyer don’t tell me nonsense!
Ad-lib: The Buhari we know is an honest and upright man and not one to hide his state of health from Nigerians who will want to know or leave the nation to conjecture on such an important matter whether he is fit or not to return to office. This is what makes the whole scenario even more suspicious, especially judging from recent experience. I wish Mr. President well.
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