By Carl Umegboro
CONSTITUTIONALLY, President Muhammadu Buhari will vacate the Presidential Villa on May 29, 2023 as he would by that day complete his second term in office. By the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, the maximum tenure of an elected president is two terms. Hence, Buhari’s social contract as far as office of the President is concerned will accordingly terminate in 2023.
Section 137(1) (b) provides, “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if – he has been elected to such office at any two previous election”.
Distinctly, Buhari has neither patent nor latent plot to elongate his tenure as witnessed during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure. Obasanjo fought aggressively and extensively for third term; to remain in office after the statutory two tenures but met a brick wall. Thus, it is baseless and unfair to create such impression against Buhari when there is absolutely no indication in that direction.
Beyond that, the most salient issue ahead of Buhari’s exit is a search for a credible successor. By the way, it’s imperative to note that by then, the north would have completed a collective eight years of two terms through Buhari, hence, along the lines of sportsmanship should support the south to have its turn.
This thinking is pertinent, albeit alien to the Constitution, on account of endless grumbles over marginalization. Southwest geopolitical zone had earlier also occupied the presidential seat through Obasanjo for eight years. Author of Pedagog a Fundamental, Everett W. Lord (1855 – 1929) said, “Be fair. Treat the other man as you would be treated”.
Appraisingly, Buhari’s tenure from 2015 has continued to give the nation a push by robust policies of his administration. Remarkably, the country’s ugly narrative as a dumping ground for everything has changed, now a producing nation. Presently, the number of rice producers is amazing that if the drive is sustained, the country is good to go.
By Nigeria’s population of roughly 200 million, rice production and its trade alone can stimulate the economy if prudently boosted.
The story is the same in other sectors. For instance, Nigerian Customs Service, Tincan Island Port Command recently posted a 2019 revenue of N346bn. Onne Port in Rivers generated N107.3bn. Hopefully, if the target facilities for the foreign loans are eventually put in place, the nation will jump many times upward in terms of infrastructural development prior to the transition.
This is where the credibility of a successor becomes an issue. By what the country has onerously achieved these tough five years, sustainability is a key factor. The country cannot go back to square one. It will be nonsensical to go back to a corrupt system that ended up plunging the masses into unbearable sufferings. For emphasis, credible candidate connotes aspirants with evident vast experiences, not opportunists.
To make it clearer, the country cannot go back to when stealing wasn’t corruption. Neither will it go back to the era of abandoned projects by party chieftains after collecting huge funds. Ditto to when ordinary toothpicks littered our seaports as imported goods. Of course, the leakages in the nation’s treasury which have been significantly blocked cannot resurface. In summary, the era of impunity and mediocrity is gone.
Admitted, corruption may not have been utterly eradicated and things are still not as estimated, however, the country has significantly moved. No doubt, it has been tough, but visibly, it is no longer business as usual. And the feats must gather momentum.
Sanguinely, political parties should source for sound candidates like Jim Ovia, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Tony Elumelu, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla for consolidation and advancement. Their profiles are suitable benchmark for the office on account of their proficiency. To get it right, it should necessarily be by expertise. And so, politicians should clear away for technocrats to take the lead.
Meanwhile, federal government aptly should focus on its Next-level manifesto. It is too early to divide concentration over succession. This administration is less than a year in office.
Besides, as the incumbent, actions of the government particularly good governance is all that the ruling party needs to consolidate its position.
By implementation of manifestos accordingly, the ruling party gains advantages as the administration’s achievements are credit points to the party. Thus, infrastructural transformation, economic growth and empowering the vulnerable masses should remain the focus of the government. Achieving these targets will also, essentially set a standard for the next administration.
As for calls in some quarters urging Buhari to appoint his successor, that’s anti-democratic. Commendably, the presidency rebuffed the wrong advice and emphasized that Mr. President cannot appoint his successor but only support his ideal candidate like other citizens. Instructively, in a democracy, the people (electorates) freely choose their leaders through one-man, one-vote. At the end, the majority carries the vote.
Similarly, for those that believed the country has witnessed retrogression or grossly militarized under Buhari, advisably, they should go back to history from 1999. Possibly, they have forgotten that Obasanjo autocratically used the instrument of his office as president in 2005 for fund-raising of his Presidential Library with about N6bn realized through intimidations by the anti-graft agency.
The knockers also forgot that Obasanjo’s late wife, Stella used her NGO as firstlady to openly raise mega funds from state governors and contractors under the watch of her husband-president. Yet, nobody remembered his military designation as General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Surprisingly, all the combatant critics of the present administration witnessed these monumental aberrations. The tempting question is, can Buhari attempt any of these gross misconducts while in office without the country going in flames? Certainly, No. Nonetheless, rule of law remains the hallmark of democracy.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). 08023184542 – SMS only. Https:CarlUmegboro.com