ANARCHY is brewing again 30 years after the felonious annulment of the 1993 presidential election gave way to an illegal interim government contraption that was swept away by military dictator, Sani Abacha, three months later. Openly, political gladiators, including some incumbent state governors, are suggesting that plans are afoot to install an interim government at the expiration of the second and final term of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on May 29. This is totally abhorrent.
All other Nigerians should stand up against the interim government kite being flown by devious politicians. Buhari should take definite steps to dispel this dangerous speculation. The 1999 Constitution has no place for any such contrivance. Under the basic law, only governments validly elected by the people are legitimate.
Refreshingly, Buhari has disavowed the treasonous calls. He reassured the public at the weekend that he was not contemplating anything along an interim government line. Rather, he insisted that he would hand over power to a new democratically elected government on May 29. He should stick to that principled stand.
The interim government proposal was first whispered in January but has gained loud currency in the past week. Anchoring their conspiracy theory on the prevailing socioeconomic turmoil, especially the petrol and new naira shortages, at least two governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress have publicly accused Buhari regime insiders of plans to foist an interim government on Nigeria. Some other governors have instituted a suit at the Supreme Court to halt the implementation deadline of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s naira redesign policy.
Arguing that the policy was implemented by unnamed groups who lost out in the party primaries in 2022, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State openly accused Buhari and his officials of deliberately wanting to scuttle the February 25 and March 11 polls. This, he alleged, would culminate in an interim government that would be led by “a retired Army general.”
On his part, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, accused Buhari of betraying those who worked to make him President in 2015 and 2019. He said, “It was like this at the time of SDP (Social Democratic Party in 1993) with the Association for Better Nigeria; the CBN governor is the ABN of this dispensation.Therefore, this is even beyond not wanting someone to win the election; it is democracy itself they don’t want. They want to set up an interim government committee (sic) like that of (Ernest) Shonekan.”
These are damning allegations that shame Nigeria’s democracy. They underline the sad reality that democracy has yet to grow solid roots in the country despite six back-to-back election cycles since 1999.
In the same vein, the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the New Naira Policy had expressed misgivings that the policy, coming so close to the general elections, was a “carefully orchestrated ploy to destabilise the polls.”
The naira policy, which the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, introduced in October 2022, has triggered chaos, disrupted lives, and crippled businesses. Sporadic riots, involving arson and looting of banks, have erupted in several parts of the country. The naira crisis collided with ongoing petrol shortages that began in September 2022, the longest in living memory.
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Together, these events have upset the election plans of political actors who, reckless and desperate as ever, are resorting to dirty tricks and conspiracy theories. One openly raised a military coup plot alarm. These suggestions undermine democracy. No matter its imperfections, democracy is the most acceptable form of government known to humanity.
The military should resist all attempts by political factions to induce it to interfere in governance. It can only trigger a chain of events with unpredictable outcomes. Nigeria should bury the ghosts of 1966 when military adventurism culminated in civil war.
The Nigerian political class has a long romance with illegality. After hijacking power from fellow military usurper (Buhari) in August 1985, military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, changed the political transition goalposts several times after promising to hand over power to a democratically elected government. He ended up spending eight years in power but was snared in his own deceit at the end of the day. After annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential ballot won by Moshood Abiola, Babangida mischievously engineered an interim government headed by the late Shonekan.
The brutal military despot, Abacha, toppled Shonekan 83 days later but died in office in 1998, and his successor ushered in the Fourth Republic in 1999. Again, Olusegun Obasanjo, the first civilian president in 1999, was accused of a tenure elongation (or third term agenda) attempt. At different times, Goodluck Jonathan, who succeeded Umaru Yar’Adua after the president died in office in May 2010, mooted a constitutional amendment of a single term of five years. All these manipulations threaten democracy.
In Africa, tenure elongation, coups d’états, and family dynasties find expression in sit-tight leaders. One-man rule and military dictatorship have fostered underdevelopment on the continent. Painful instances include Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Eritrea and Eswatini. The excuse that countries like Nigeria are just coming out of prolonged military rule is invalid since the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and others in Eastern Europe have adapted quickly to democracy after emerging from communism.
Indeed, the developed countries of Europe and North America are bastions of democracy. Emergent economies like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia also thrive on their growing democratic culture.
Nigeria is in an economic and political mess, created by the self-indulgent political class. Buhari should not succumb to the manipulations of these bad eggs among the political class to derail democracy.
He should ensure that Nigerians freely choose their leaders by superintending over credible, fair, and unfettered elections. Beyond words, he should stay home, take charge of the security agencies and neutralise the interim government kite and other threats. ,
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