Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has rejected the idea of extending his tenure when it expires on May 29, 2023, saying he has no plan to stay beyond his constitutionally guaranteed term limit.
A statement from Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesperson, shared by Bashir Ahmad, his social media aide, quoted him saying that there is “no going back on leaving office after completing his constitutionally guaranteed tenure.”
The clarification comes in the wake of a suggestion by senior lawyer, Robert Clarke, SAN, that the president may need to serve for an extra six months to give him enough time to address the country’s security woes.
The elder statesman who spoke on Arise TV on Monday, had argued that the constitution provided for the president to extend his tenure for six months in the first instance if conditions were not ripe for an election.
Clarke who lamented that the country was moving in the wrong direction, said insecurity had become intractable and may disrupt the 2023 presidential election.
The Constitution provides that the President can stay longer than eight years. I’ve always said it. It is in the Constitution. If the situation in which we’re in now continues, and it is impossible to vote in the 2023 elections, the Constitution says if a situation persists, the President can stay. Given all insurgencies, kidnappings, and Boko Haram, I don’t think in these areas of Nigeria, we can have a good election.
So, the fact that the Constitution says the president cannot stay for more than eight years is wrong. Because the same constitution says he can be given six months if those conditions persist.
Now, I don’t see any green light. I don’t see how what is happening today can be stopped within six months from today or before February next year when the elections will be held.
The alternative then is for Mr. President to continue as president, allow the security watches to carry up the mopping up and Nigeria will become stable.
Because I swear to God Almighty, without stability in Nigeria, without security, Nigeria is going nowhere. No foreigner will bring his money and put in any business in Nigeria when he knows that any of his expatriates who are sent to Nigeria can be kidnapped at any time.
So, until all these things are sorted out, I don’t see any green light. If nothing happens before the elections, God forbid, this country will go down in flames.
Clarke’s assertion came barely three weeks after legal luminary, Afe Babalola, suggested that the country should suspend its 2023 elections instead and institute an interim government after Buhari’s tenure elapses.