By Henry Ojelu
Chairman Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the suggestion that he extend his tenure by another six months in view of the security situation of the country.
Olanipekun said the suggestion for extension of the tenure of the present administration beyond May 29, 2023 “is a direct call to breach of the Constitution, as well as its spirit, tenor and letter. There is no gainsaying the fact that the end result of such a proposition would further compound the conundrum that we have steeped into and, plunge us to a latent state of anomie.”
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Chief Robert Clarke, had suggested that President Buhari extended his tenure for an additional six months in view of the perennial insecurity enveloping the country when he featured on a programme on Arise Television.
However Olanipekun, in a statement on Wednesday titled, “On Chief Robert Clarke’s call for Tenure Extension, I differ” disagreed with Clarke on the issue saying, “my honest, friendly, professional and civic advice is that he should treat this advice or any invitation to him to extend his tenure by a millisecond beyond 29th May, 2023, with a pinch of salt.”
Olanipekun argued that the postulations and prognosis of Chief Clarke on tenure extension “are not constitutional, legal, legitimate, moral, democratic, acceptable, reasonable, or in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
He contended that it is in the collective interest of Nigerians if this proposition is nipped in the bud adding that the President does not have the power to extend his tenure; no President has that power or vires to so do.
“While it is glaring that Nigeria is bedeviled by a mountain of daunting challenges, including insecurity, this cannot be any justification for a call for President Muhammadu Buhari or any President, howsoever, to extend his tenure outside the constitutionally provided maximum period of eight years, as prescribed by the combined provisions of sections 135(2) and 137(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“This suggestion, if considered at all, how much being implemented, would no doubt aggravate our already compounded woes and terminate the survival of the present democratic adventure. “The tenure was given to him by Nigerians and, as at the time of donating that tenure to him, the covenant between the donors and the donee was that in the first instance, it was for a term certain of four years; and upon renewal in 2019, it was for an extended term certain of four years; no more, no less!”, he argued.
The Chairman Body of Bencher described as “ disturbing, unfortunate, uncheering, and very worrisome that since 1999, Nigeria has been migrating from one problem to another, oscillating from one crisis to another; graduating from one degree of catastrophe to another; as a result of which the landscape has become a practicing pitch for all sorts of theories, ideologies, ideas, suggestions, prognosis and hypothesis.”
He lamented that it has become the norm, a negative, ill-informed and misleading one at that, that we equate Nigeria as a sovereign state, as well as her over 200 million citizens, with whoever is the President of Nigeria at any given time; and we benchmark, erroneously and painfully, for that matter, his security with that of larger whole.
He argued, “ if, for example, as rightly surmised by Chief Clarke, that Obasanjo did a ‘negative act’ by seeking a third term in office, wanting to goad the National Assembly into rubber stamping his unconstitutional bid, why then is the High Chief prompting President Buhari to follow the same illegal and undemocratic route? To my mind, this is a suggestion akin to advising President Buhari to embark on a third term bid or adventure like OBJ, who Chief Robert Clarke pointed out as having done a ‘negative act.”
Olanipekun cited the case of Marwa V. Nyako (2012) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1296) 199 resolves all issues and doubts relating and pertaining to the certainty and sanctity of the eight-year maximum period permitted by the Constitution for a Chief Executive, either of the State or Federation to support his arguments.
He said: “Apart from Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, and Ondo States where governorship elections were/are not conducted at the same time with the presidential/general elections, what happens to the Chief Executives of the remaining 30 States who have the tenures of their Chief Executives qua Governors terminating or lapsing on 29th May, 2023?”
“Is it also being suggested that their respective tenures be extended because their States are at war? What of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly? Does the largesse also extend to them?”, he asked.
“The point must be made, and the truism rehashed, that in any country or institution, company or organisation, or even within the micro family level, no one, whether the President, the Governor, the Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director of a company, or even head of family can ever boast of completing his job or assignment before handing over to a successor.
“This is also latent in every democracy in the world. The presidential or governorship position is not monarchical, meaning that it is not of a life-time tenure. It is also not personal to anybody. Presidents/Governors come, and Presidents/Governors must go”, he stated.