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Kashim Shettima, the vice presidential candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC), declared that if the ruling party wins the presidency next year, he will focus on reducing insecurity in the nation.
While his principal, Bola Tinubu, will be in charge of the economy, Mr. Shettima said he would personally lead the Nigerian military’s fight against criminals at the recently concluded Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which took place on Monday in Lagos.
“I have spent 18 years in the theatre of combat; I will command the troops. My principal is an economic wizard who turned Lagos into the continent’s third-largest economy. He’ll pay close attention to the economy.
“By God’s grace, I will handle the security, and not only handle the security, I will lead the troops to battle across the length and breadth of this country,” he said.
Can the president lead the troops?
Mr Shettima’s comment which has been interpreted to mean he will act as the commander-in-chief if elected vice president, a role which is the constitutional preserve of the President or the acting president, has left Nigerians on social media wondering if he will usurp the role of his principal, Mr Tinubu.
According to Section 130(2) of the 1999 Constitution, the Nigerian president has the exclusive authority as the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces and not his deputy.
Other than the Section noted above, PREMIUM TIMES can confirm that no section empowers a VP to lead a troop of any number or size.
Chukwunomso Ogbe, a political analyst and lawyer, noted that it is out of his place as a vice presidential candidate to aspire for the lofty right of a president.
He argued that the former Borno governor can only do what he said if his principal, Mr Tinubu, willingly passed such power down to him but not by his mere expression of passion to serve.
The role of the VP is subservient to the office of the president. In other words, he can play the role of the president in his absence, including giving military orders to execute.
“If you have a VP that is ready and willing to take proactive security measures to protect the citizens and then you have a president that is not comfortable with that idea, the idea of that VP will never fly because he is a constitutionally recognised commander-in-chief. That is the provision of the law.
“With due respect to what the APC vice presidential candidate said, his statement is laudable but it is still subjected to the will and caprices of the president if his party wins the election.
“It doesn’t matter whether he has military experience or not, a civilian, by the virtue of his office, is entitled to some privileges. One of such is the title of commander-in-chief and nothing stops him from participating in military exercises or functions. Whether he has military experience or not is a different ball game.
“For Shettima, he is just contesting for a VP seat and even if they should win this election, he can only be a second in command and not the commander-in-chief. It is only a president, as a civilian, that can make his kind of statement with passion,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
Another lawyer, Tunji Abayomi, said the statement of the APC VP candidate is being taken out of context.
He described Mr Shettima’s statement as an undue noise widely exaggerated to discredit his candidacy.
“His thoughts are mere proposals and contemplations. Constitutionally, it can be accepted and rejected by the commander-in-chief. That’s number one and I am quite sure that he spoke about his responsibility to his commander-in-chief, his principal.
“The second is that there is so much noise about nothing in my view. People saying he is laying the foundation to take over power. I think it is an undue exaggeration. Let’s even assume that he will be the commander-in-chief. Where a commander is under another commander-in-chief, the commander’s command becomes immaterial. We have nothing to worry about.