Most Nigerians are obviously still caught up in the euphoria of the new year, little wonder then, that after a whole week the president of the country made a pronouncement in his new year message, wherein he promised to leave office in 2023 and won’t contest in any future elections, no one seem to be perturbed about this statement.
According to the president, this declaration is based on the fact that he is a strong believer of democratic principles and will promote and sustain them in Nigeria and across West Africa. For one who has been up to date with the Nigerian political arena, the above reason given by the president is actually ludicrous. For if there has been any point in the annals of democratic rule in Nigeria, that the very pillars of democracy have been so unrepentantly pelted down and manipulated to suit the whims and caprices of the executive, then it is in this present administration
Thus when the president says “I will be standing down in 2023 and well not be available in any future elections. But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region where several ECOWAS members go to the polls this year”. History does its duty then in spelling out to us that no one gives what he does not have, if you are quick to flout all the rules and principles guiding democracy, how then can you strengthen the very thing your actions remain stubbornly persistent in tearing down?
A curious mind would ask, of what importance is this particular statement of the president “to stand down”, since it’s already enshrined in the constitution of the country that presidents and governors are allowed two maximum terms of four years each, after which they will no longer be legible to contest for those offices. Then of what need is it over laboring the obvious. The statement seems to go with an unstated assumption of the intention to continue even after the second term in office. And given the way he has been having his way in virtually everything, we might wake up one morning and see that the lid of the constitution has been tipped, for words often betray our evil intentions.
Nigerians therefore shouldn’t jubilate over the pronouncement nor let the sleeping dog lie. History remains a veritable tool and a faithful balustrade when it comes to conflicting intentions. When former president Olusegun Obasanjo was re-elected in 2003, he played this familiar tune, by reassuring his party chiefs that he would not contest elections again. But the grip of his reassurance wasn’t strong enough to stop him and his supporters from attempting to amend the 1999 constitution so as to elongate the terms of office of the presidents and governors. This attempt of course was not let to see the light of the day, owing to its firm rejection by Nigerians.