The Presidency has said President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration does not subscribe to suggestions that it would need to extend its tenure beyond the May 29, 2023 by six months to establish peace and security.
It also noted that calls on the administration to hand over to an interim government at the expiration of its second tenure is also unacceptable as it would be violating the rights of Nigerians to choose those whom they want to lead them through a democratic process.
The Presidency was reacting to two legal luminaries, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) and Chief Afe Babalola, who in separate calls, expressed opinions suggesting that the administration should delay the upcoming general elections, extend its tenure by six months or constitute an Interim Government.
They both cited the national security crisis for their suggestions.
But a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that the administration had already started and is succeeding at stabilising the nation’s security and hopes to complete the process before its signs out on May 29, 2023, emphasising the President Buhari would not violate the Constitution.
On call on the President to extend his stay in office by six months, the statement said: “Chief Robert 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 29th, 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 Nigerian 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 realize 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 have 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, the 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”, said.
Responding to Babalola’s call for an interim government, the statement said: “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.
“Instead, this administration proposes something entirely simpler: honouring the constitution and people’s right to decide”, it said.