IT is strange that the two plaintive appeals for the sidelining of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 As Altered) have come from respected and eminent elders who are also seasoned constitutional lawyers.
On April 23, 2022, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) called for an interim government which would be asked to give Nigeria a new constitution to re-lay the foundation for a workable nation.
Last week, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) in a television interview, claimed that the Constitution allows President Muhammadu Buhari to extend his tenure by six months if that is what he needs to deal with the security challenges facing the nation.
We can understand the frustration that might have led these well-meaning senior citizens to prescribe extra-constitutional panaceas in the interest of the nation. But we strongly believe that if faithfully followed, the 1999 Constitution can lead us through to a successful transfer of power at all levels in 2023.
Let us first of all, give kudos to President Buhari who has firmly rejected calls on him from some quarters to run for a third term. He also quickly issued a statement last week, assuring of his commitment to keep a date with May 29, 2023 as mandated by the Constitution he swore to uphold. Buhari’s undertakings have helped in no small way to prevent the polity from boiling over.
We do not believe that Buhari’s inability to arrest the security challenges is a function of paucity of time. Our Constitution gives eight maximum years within which an elected leader should be able to fix existing problems. If he fails to deliver during this timeline, he must give way to a new person. Government is a continuum.
If Buhari does eight years and fails to address the insecurity which was top of his three-point agenda, he would still not be able to achieve it if given six extra months. Besides, if we have to give every president six extra months to tackle problems, then every president will ask for it. That would be absurd.
We must not reward failure with tenure extension. We must continue to prevail on Buhari and his ruling party to live up to their constitutional and electoral mandates to secure the lives and property of the citizens. We must continue to encourage and assist the law enforcement agencies in every way we can.
Meanwhile, we must also help in the search for more capable hands to take on the tasks of reviving the economy and protecting the people. The array of aspirants offering to serve includes a number of competent and tested leaders. Let us look for the best to lead us.
We must put these reactionary ideas planted into our psyche by the military behind us.