Buhari and 2023

By Julius Oweh
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The fundamental underpin of any constitutional government is that of time limit and the holders of office know their exit date. In a parliamentary system, due to the vagaries of power play, the prime minister may lose office either due to vote of no confidence or he may decide to call a snap election. In the presidential system which we currently practice, barring the impeachment scenario, the president is expected to stay in office for four years and renewable only once by the expressed wishes of the people.

Therefore it is a political travesty for the President Muhammadu Buhari to say that he would not be standing for another election at the end of the present tenure. Those behind the New Year message of the president got it all wrong. There was practically no need for that. Hear what the president said in the New Year message: `I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available for elections….. at all times will be governed by the rule of law` . If the speech was meant to be a veiled reference to the rumoured third term ambition, there was practically no need for that. The media handlers could have solved that problem the very moment the virus of third term ambition hit the media. By unnecessary delay and late response to the rumour, they were only giving the rumour merchants and media speculators more fuel to carry out their unholy mission. Whether the president supports the third term agenda or not, the reference to it shows that all is not well with our political system. It is only hoped that the president will keep to his words for many Nigerians are ready to enter the trenches to fight for the survival and sustenance of our democracy.

As for the promise to be governed by the rule of law, I will not pander words with the presidency on that matter. But it is on records that are many examples to show that the rule of law is highly ignored by the present administration. By ignoring court rulings, the rule of law is being subverted. Let it be stated here and now that the difference between dictatorship and democracy is rule of law. In its simplest definition, everybody is equal before the law and that the sanctity of court pronouncements are obeyed and not subjected to interpretation. It is hoped that the remaining three years and five months of Buhari administration would show due respect for the rule of law.

The president should also avoid the temptation of trying to impose his successor on the nation. The 2023 presidential election should be free and fair but going by previous elections, the writer is quaking with fear about the fate that may befall the nation. I will be very happy if my fears turn out to be unfounded. Let Nigerians decide who should be the next president from any of the major political parties. I will not be drawn into the political polemics that it is the turn of one section of the country to produce the next president. Those canvassing such idea should work towards it.

The economy is in a bad shape and leading economists had warned of impending economic meltdown. The government should look towards that direction and tackle youth unemployment and poverty ravaging the land. There are too many skilled people that are unemployed and that a lot of my compatriots are going to bed hungry. It is indeed a thing of shame that Nigeria is now seen as the world capital of poor people. Given the human resources and abundant mineral deposits, we have no business with poverty. Here is a country of abundant crude oil, yet we cannot refine a litre of petrol, there is simply absence of responsible and responsive leadership. This is time for Buhari to make the difference or he may enter the history books as leadership deficit.

Insecurity remains the signature tune of the country. Let there be real overhaul of the security architecture so that the plagues of kidnapping, armed robbery and terrorism are curbed. The primary objectives of governance are welfare and security and it is unfortunate the leadership is on holiday. It is true that Buhari cannot solve all the problems of this country but five years and seven months is enough to make the difference. Whether it is the cabal that is making the president not to effectively govern the nation, this is a wakeup call for the president to etch his name in the history book as a committed leader. Wasting his time on a third term bid denial is not my understanding of a democratically elected president with a fixed time limit. Let the right things be done.

Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State.

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