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HomeEDITORIALEDITORIAL: Alleged third term plot and Buhari’s persistent denials

EDITORIAL: Alleged third term plot and Buhari’s persistent denials

The issue of tenure elongation plot is not new to the Nigerian political scene. Equally, Nigerians are not strangers to denials that always follow such plots. The trend has been rearing its ugly head since the era of military rule with civilian collaborators being the chief advocates.
During the military era such plots were dressed up in a style that made it look like the entire nation was clamouring for their leader to continue in office, when in actual sense, they were sanctioned by the leaders themselves.

For instance, the country witnessed tenure elongation melodrama such as the ‘‘One Million Man March for Abacha’’ and ‘‘Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha’’ in 1990s.These prompted a barrage of condemnation from democracy and civil rights activists within and outsides the country.
The plot thickened, amidst other rights abuses, to the extent that Nigeria became a pariah state before the international community. While the scheme was drawing bad blood for the then military junta, it became a honey pot for its campaigners across the country until the death of General Sani Abacha in 1998.

Strangely, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, also from the military constituency became Nigeria’s leader upon the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, also fell into the third term trap. In fact, during his second term, pro-Obasanjo campaigners got close to achieving their aim when the Senate constitution review committee recommended a three-year extension of tenure for the president and all 36 state governors.
However, despite that feat, the evidently well crafted third term plot failed woefully when on May 16, 2016, federal lawmakers in the upper legislative chambers threw out the constitutional amendment bill, and Obasanjo lost out.

As time went by, more tales of how huge sums of money were used as a bait to corner lawmakers to favour a third term for Obasanjo unfolded.
In the face of that, the ‘chicken farmer’ remained mute while in office despite emerging fact that the president sought a third term. Obasanjo has insisted, after leaving office, that he had no third term plot, much to the surprise of keen observers and witnesses.

President Muhammadu Buhari, whose name is now being mentioned in the obnoxious web of tenure elongation plot, has equally persistently denied such plot. “I won’t seek a third term in office’’ he has said. Critics however claim that the truth lies in the belly of time.

Those who believed Buhari’s were however shocked, when in a manner consistent with tenure elongation game in Nigeria, a supporter of the President took a practical step aimed at perpetuating the incumbent leader in power beyond 2023. In that move, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi State, Charles Enya, filed suit with reference no: FHC/AI/CS/90/19 seeking the amendment of the constitution to allow President Muhammadu Buhari get another term in office. He was later disowned.

Again, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, spoke strongly against the purported bid, when he insisted that: “President Buhari intends to serve his full second elected term in office, ending 2023 and then there shall be a general election in which he will not be a candidate. There is not even the faintest possibility that this will change…”

We believe the President’s persistent denial of a third term plot is commendable. However, we equally appreciate the anxiety over the alleged plot by the civil society.Nigerians have, given their recent history, become wary of official pronouncements. This has been largely due to elevation of doublespeak within official circles to an artform. Consequently, the people have become more at home with the need for eternal vigilance.

As Nigeria inches towards 2023, we urge President Buhari to walk the talk, stay focused on his cardinal promises to the nation. He has a rare opportunity to change the narrative that will make the citizens believe their government for once. We further call on the president to remain firm and continue to resist any political jobber who comes up with further agitation for his third term. That is the path of honour and integrity with which he has always been associated.

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