Afenifere tackles Afe Babalola over interim govt, poll suspension suggestions
A host of groups in Nigeria on Tuesday kicked against the call by Afe Babalola, SAN, for the postponement of the 2023 polls and setting up of an interim government after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
They said Babalola’s suggestions would do more harm than good to the country.
Babalola, the founder and chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) said on Tuesday that conducting the 2023 polls with the 1999 constitution would push Nigeria deeper into the abyss.
He suggested that the preoccupation of the interim government for six months would be to produce a new constitution that would tackle insecurity, economic, political and other excruciating ills bedeviling the nation, and, thereafter, conduct the elections based on the new constitution.
Babalola said that members of the interim government should be drawn from all living former presidents and vice presidents; some selected ministers and governors and delegates of prominent professional associations.
“The same constitution has made politics become not only very attractive but also the only lucrative business in Nigeria today. What this means is that any election that holds under the present scenario will end up producing transactional and recycled leaders, with no ability to turn things around,” he had said.
While many agreed with Babalola that the state of the nation was critical, they disagreed with him on interim government and election postponement.
For instance, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, said the call for an interim national government and the worsening state of the country are signs of a failed state.
It also said that the call for President Muhammadu Buhari’s resignation by some notable Nigerians “is coming rather late in the day.”
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi, Afenifere said that the submissions by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, summed up the precarious situation bedeviling Nigeria.
He said: “By this, we mean the unprecedented low level to which the country has sunk including the depth of mistrust among sub-groups in the country. Compounding these were the cheapening of human life, displacement of innocent people from their ancestral homes and the elevation of corruption almost into the statecraft.
“It was not surprising, therefore, that the senior citizens in the North, under the auspices of Northern Elders Forum, NEF, called for the resignation of President Buhari. The frustration by Nigerians was also behind the call for an Interim Government by Chief Babalola.”
Polls postponement faulted
While acknowledging the enormity of the problems, Afenifere faulted the call for postponement of the scheduled elections because “there is no justification whatsoever for this administration to spend one day beyond the stipulated period, which is May 29, 2023. And the only constitutionally stipulated way of changing government is through the electoral process. Being a law-abiding organisation, Afenifere does not believe in extra-legal means of changing government.”
On the call by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, that Buhari should resign, it said: “While it might appear that the call is coming rather late in the day, the frustration that gave birth to it is quite understandable. Were the government being properly run, such a call would not have come. That it came from a group known to hardly see anything wrong with an administration headed by a Northerner is an important reason for President Buhari to realise that his government has really failed Nigerians.
“The situation, under President Buhari, became so damning that Robert Kennedy University in Scotland used him as an example of a negatively-performing head of a government. It was a national embarrassment. It was something that right-thinking Nigerians were ashamed of. But we could not effectively challenge the university — and many others who share the same view because its inference reflected the reality of our situation in Nigeria presently.
“There is no doubt that the situation in Nigeria has overwhelmed the present officials in government. It would therefore not be out of place for President Buhari to get innovative patriots from all strata of the society to constitute a governing college or council. The major task of such a body should be the immediate Restructuring of the country into a True Federalism.
“Bishop Kukah’s submission should serve as a wake-up call for the government so that the ills of the society can be addressed quickly – in an honest and enduring manner.
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