The call for the suspension of the 2023 general elections and the installation of an interim government in 2023 recently made by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), has been kicked against.
the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, some Senior Advocates of Nigeria and the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Tuesday, faulted expressed divergent opinions on the call even though the senior lawyers agreed that there was a need for a new constitution.
Tayo Oyetibo said an interim government would destabilise the polity.
He stated, “I think Nigerians need a stable political environment and an interim government is unstable.
“The constitution is not the problem of Nigeria; our problem is with the operators of the constitution. Of course, there is a need for adjustment of the constitution. Our problem is never with the constitution. Great Britain has an unwritten constitution, yet the system is being run perfectly.”
Another lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa(SAN), said the emphasis should be on the restructuring of the country.
Adegboruwa stated, “I don’t agree with the revered legal luminary that we should have an interim government, especially consisting of past heads of state. That means the likes of Buhari and Babaginda, among others, will be part of that government and other people who have drawn the nation backward. What is it they have to offer that they didn’t offer while in power?
“Rather than recycle those who have run the nation aground, there are younger and talented people who can move this country forward. I think what he was saying indirectly is that there should be restructuring before the election.”
Adegoke Rasheed (SAN), on his part said the call was not feasible.
He stated, “The constitution has mandated a periodic election and until that provision of the constitution is amended or there is a revolution overthrowing that constitution, it is not possible to have an interim government in place.
“It is a good idea we must have a new constitution but the call for an interim government is not practicable.”
Although Afenifere agreed with Babalola over the bad situation of the country, it nevertheless, said it was not in support of interim government.
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, who conveyed the position of the group in a statement on Tuesday, stated that Babalola made the suggestions due to the frustration being experienced by Nigerians.
The statement read in part, “While Afenifere acknowledged the enormity of the problems, we do not support the cancellation or postponement of the scheduled elections.
“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 judicial means of changing government.”
Uzodinma, on his part, said the 1999 Constitution lacked room for an interregnum.
The governor stated, “By May 29, if there is no elected government, our 1999 Constitution has not provided for an interregnum. There shouldn’t be a gap; otherwise, you are creating room for anarchy.
“What will be the process of selecting the interim government because after May 29, the President may not have constitutional powers to function as a President anymore? So, I don’t think we will decide to abandon our Constitution. Our Constitution is like a Bible. For some of us who are Christians, the Bible is the manager of our faith. So, the Constitution should be the instrument guiding our actions as a country.
“If you think there is an opinion that is worthy of being canvassed which is superior to what is in the 1999 Constitution, such opinion should be taken to the National Assembly and they will, through due process, amend our Constitution to factor in such an opinion.”
Reacting to a question about the recent killing of a staff member of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Imo State, Uzodinma explained that INEC was not the initial target.
The legal luminary had, at a press conference on Monday, asked that election be suspended until a new constitution was put in place. He also advocated for an interim government to replace the regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) in 2023.