The Presidency, yesterday, declared that President Muhammadu Buhari is ready to step down at the expiration of his tenure on May 29, 2023, in reaction to the call by Senior Advocate of Nigeria and elder statesman, Chief Robert Clarke, for tenure extension.
Specifically, Clarke had called for tenure extension for President Buhari to enable for more time to tackle the nation’s myriad of problems before elections can be smoothly held.
Reacting, however, in a statement, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said: “Chief Clarke, a very well-respected elder, may be sincere in his wish for the President to extend his term by six months. We wish to categorically restate that the President will step down on May 29, 2023, after serving two terms – as per the Constitution.
“Having been the first recipient of a democratic transfer of power from an incumbent administration to an opposition candidate in Nigeria’s history, the President is committed to extending and entrenching democratic values across the country. He shall, in turn, hand the privilege of serving the people of Nigeria to whomever they choose through free, fair and credible elections.
“However, Chief Clarke is right to say that without security, Nigeria would not likely realise its true potential as a peaceful and prosperous nation. That is why it has been at the core of this administration. The results are there for all to see. Boko Haram has been forced back from controlling whole swathes of this country. Internally Displaced Persons are now returning to rebuild their communities. These achievements have been accomplished through the bravery and determination of the Nigerian armed forces and the fortitude of the people of our nation.
“New challenges have arisen and tackled in turn – whether it’s the National Livestock Transformation Plan to alleviate herder-farmer clashes, elimination of the leadership of ISWAP, or new efforts to combat banditry. Till the last day of the administration, the security of the citizens shall remain the administration’s paramount concern.
We shall finish the job. Yet, in any case, respect for the Constitution and Nigerians’ democratic rights remains the best path to securing and then maintaining peace.
“Yet there are others, such as Chief Afe Babalola, that believe elections should be suspended, with the current elected government replaced by an interim unelected administration. This, he claims, is necessary to create a new Constitution for the people, made possible, paradoxically, by ignoring their democratic rights. Down that path lies crisis and instability.”
MEANWHILE, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has cautioned Clarke against destabilising the country. The group made the call in a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in Abuja.
In its reaction, HURIWA urged Nigerians to oppose Buhari’s subterranean schemes to extend his presidency by using surrogates who would flood the media with unsustainable and irrational requests for a third term for the President.
The statement read: “We think that when elders talk they should show wisdom rather than make people begin to wonder what type of warped logic is being unleashed.
“For those who want us, the younger ones, to call them elders and respect their old age because of what that concept means in a lot of African cultures and cosmological deduction as symbolising wisdom, then these elders must not speak like little minds and make proposals that may imperil the entire nation all because of the pursuit of some selfish ambitions for some alleged or perceived paymasters.
“President Buhari is the major cause of the escalation of violence and terrorism in Nigeria since the last seven years that he came on board controversially through two very disreputable elections.
“Is it by giving him six months that he will solve what he refused to resolve in seven years? Even if you give President Buhari till eternity, he can’t improve the security situation because he is grossly incompetent and is a bigoted Islamic religious extremist,” he said.