15 Days To Elections: President Muhammadu Buhari’s Exit Plan Rules Out Chance Of Interim Govt

Proponents of interim national government appear to have lost out as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday set the stage for his exit from office on May 29, 2023 after his two terms of eight years.

The president announced a transition council headed by the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, to prepare his handover documents.

Buhari’s action, to political pundits, has foreclosed fears that the February 25 presidential election may not hold, which has compelled some prominent Nigerians to call for the setting up of an interim national government to run for six months.

Among the champions of the interim government is the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola,  who had, last April, advised the federal government to suspend the 2023 elections to allow a six-month interim government after Buhari’s tenure.

Buhari

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He had argued that a new constitution to address insecurity, economic, political and other ills  bedeviling the nation should be evolved within the period

And while the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, also said the frustration that Nigerians are going through occasioned the call for an interim government, the group, nonetheless, declared that it did not support the cancellation or postponement of the scheduled elections.

However, in the build-up to the election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, while insisting that the February 25, 2023 presidential election date is sacrosanct, stressed that any plot to have an interim national government is a dead agenda because such does not have any place whatsoever in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as in Nigeria’s democratic practice.

Atiku, speaking through this campaign council, accused the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign of pushing for the interim arrangement and asked it to perish contemplations or discussions of setting up an Interim National Government.

On its part, the All Progressives Congress (APC) described as blatantly false and reckless media reports suggesting that it is spearheading the postponement of the 2023 general election.

According to the ruling party, the shadowy media reports which have generated needless anxiety and speculations is fake news.

And yesterday, Buhari approved the establishment of a Presidential Transition Council to facilitate and manage the 2023 transition to a new  democratically elevated administration.

Apart from the SGF,  other members of the committee are the head of the Civil Service of the Federation, solicitor-general of the federation and permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice.

Others are permanent secretaries from the following ministries and offices: Defence, Interior, Finance, Budget and National Planning, Foreign Affairs, Information and Culture, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA),Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Cabinet Affairs Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), General Services Office, Economic and Political Affairs Office, State House, National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector-General of Police.

There are also the directors-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Department of State Services (SSS), chief registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and two representatives to be nominated by the president-elect.

According to a statement issued by the media office of the SGF, the Transition Council will be inaugurated by Mustapha on Tuesday, 14th February, 2023.

Also, the president has signed the Executive Order No. 14 of 2023 on the Facilitation and Management of the Presidential Transitions.

A key feature of the Presidential Executive Order No. 14 of 2023 is the institutionalisation of a legal framework that would enable a seamless transition of power from one Presidential Administration to another which is part of President Buhari’s legacy.

 

CSOs Warns Proponents Of Interim Govt

Following the constitution of the transition committee by President Muhammadu Buhari, some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria have alerted the president to ask the ministers to resign.

According to the CSOs, they are also going to monitor the activities of the transition committee set up by Buhari and ensure they did not go outside the provisions of the law of the land.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP Friday last night, the CSOs also cautioned politicians and regional bodies against raising allegations of a planned interim government.

The CSOs that spoke to LEADERSHIP Friday are Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Transparency International (TI) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)

Speaking, the leader of TMG, TI, and CISLAC, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, said it is not wise for the government to set up a transition committee when the ministers have not been asked to resign.

He said for the Buhari administration to show commitment to a free and fair election, the ministers should be asked to hand over the activities of the ministries to the permanent secretaries.

“It is sad that the same politicians that were part of destroying the country are coming out with another game to deceive the common  people of Nigeria,” Rafsanjani said of the talk concerning a planned interim government.

“There is no gain for the common man. They always want to use the common man for their interest. They are just trying to divert attention. Where were they in the last seven years when the country was in a total mess? Where were they when people are being killed in different places.

“Nigerians must know that the interests of these politicians is just to siphon money. We are calling on Nigerians to ignore these rumours. Nigerians have been killed, livelihood destroyed, but they did not say anything. Election is here, they have now found their voices,” the CSOs said.

On the transition committee, the CSOs said they will observe and ensure that they do what is right.

“The transition committee, we will observe them and ensure there is no manipulation against the electoral system. They must follow the law of the land.

“If an election is coming and the ministers are involved in the elections but did not resign, then something is wrong. Even in the previous administration, ministers were asked to go. But under Buhari, they are on their seats, using the public money to campaign.”

 

“FG Clears Coast For 3.8m Students To Vote

Students in Nigerian universities and Inter-University Centres would be able to exercise their rights to vote in the forthcoming general elections after the National Universities Commission (NUC) directed  institutions to suspend academic activities from February 22 to March 14.

LEADERSHIP Friday earlier reported that over 3.8 million registered  student voters, who are part of youth population accounting for 40.8 per cent of the total voting population, were unlikely to vote in the election if institutions, especially universities,  did not give a few days break for elections.

However, following calls from several quarters that universities should declare holidays for students to vote in the forthcoming general elections, the NUC yesterday mandated the closure of universities across the country, in order to allow students participate in the electoral process.

The directive was contained in a circular dated February 3, 2023 and addressed to all Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and Directors/Chief Executives of Inter-University Centres by the Commission, which was obtained by LEADERSHIP Friday yesterday.

In the circular, signed by the Deputy Secretary (Administration), Chris Maiyaki, the Commission noted that the letter was based on the mandate of the minister of education, Adamu Adamu.

It reads in part, “As Vice-Chancellors of all Universities and Director/Chief Executive of Inter-University Centres are quite aware the 2023 General Elections have been scheduled to hold on Saturday 25th February 2023, for the Presidential and National Assembly, and Saturday 1st March 2023 for Gubernatorial and State Assembly, respectively.

“In view of the foregoing and concerns expressed on the security of staff, students and properties of our respective institutions, the Honourable Minister of Education, Mal. Adama Adamu has, following extensive consultations with the relevant security agencies, directed that all Universities and Inter-University Centres be shut down and academic activities be suspended between 22 February and 14th March, 2023.

“Consequently, vice-chancellors and chief executives of inter-university centres are by this circular requested to shut down their respective Institutions from Wednesday 22nd February 2023 to Tuesday 14th March 2023.

Meanwhile, based on the directive by NUC that all universities should suspend activities from 22nd February and 14th March, 2023, our correspondents sought to find out if the institutions had received such cecular.

It was gathered from the University of Lagos that the information should be in the office of the Vice Chancellor. However, based on the academic calendar of the University of Lagos, there is room for a break to be observed in view of the 2023 general election beginning from February 23rd so that students would not be on campus during the election period.

It was also gathered that Yaba College of Technology would also observe the general election break as the institution is presently rounding off their second semester examination.

Mr Joe Ejiofor, the Public Relations Officer and Deputy Registrar of Yabatech, said, “The 2nd-semester exam for full-time will end tomorrow (Friday), and that brings to an end the 21/22 session. Students have been directed to vacate the halls of residence on or before 12 noon on Saturday. A new date for resumption has not been fixed.”

However, the public relations personnel of Lagos State University note that he had not seen such a circular from the NUC and that the information had not been passed down to him from the office of the Vice Chancellor.

Mr Jerry Sam Olaniyi said via a phone call that a statement should be sent from VC’s office to authenticate such a report but it hasn’t yet as at the time of filing this report.

At the University of Abuja, the Head, Information and University Relations, Dr. Habib Yakoob, said “There has been no circular issued by the University of Abuja with regard to any plan to close the institution.”

Notwithstanding the National Universities Commission’s (NUC) directive that universities should vacate for three weeks, the university of Ilorin will continue its academic activities through virtual lectures.

The vice chancellor of the university, Prof Wahab Egbewole (SAN) confirmed this to LEADERSHIP during a telephone interview yesterday.

He also confirmed that the NUC has passed the directive to the universities.

“Yes, the NUC has passed the directive to all the universities that they should go on three weeks vacation. But, at the University of Ilorin, nothing has changed. The students will go home to be with their parents, but the academic activities will continue through virtual lectures,” Egbewole stated.

The University of Port Harcourt on Wednesday announced that it was going on break ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The PRO of the University, Dr. Sammy Kpenu, said the break, which will begin on Friday, February 10, 2023, was in accordance with the Institution’s academic calendar.

A circular obtained by LEADERSHIP, which was signed by the Registrar, Dr. Gloria Chinda confirmed that the University will resume academic activities in March 2023.

INEC Battles 1,241 Pre-election Cases, Reject Party Member As Returning Officers

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lamented that it is now joined in about 1,241 pre-election litigations, lamenting that the figure keeps increasing.

This is even as the commission warned that staff members, who are card carrying members or have participated in partisan politics, should not be nominated as returning officers for the 2023 elections.

The nation’s electoral body therefore sought the support of lawyers by sometimes offering pro bono services to the commission.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this during  a meeting with executive committee members of the Nigerian Bar Association NBA, noted that parties have conducted primaries and submitted names of candidates to INEC but some of the cases have gone to the Federal High Court, some before the Appeal Court and some even before the Supreme Court.

“On pre-election litigation alone, INEC has been joined in1,241 cases. These were not elections conducted by INEC but each time they (aspirants) go to court, they join the commission. Out of these cases, over 300 are before the Court of Appeal and 155 before the Supreme Court as of Monday last week”, he stated.

Yakubu noted that NBA is one of the accredited observers for the election, urging them to continue to file post-election reports to the commission.

“What is good about the NBA is that at the end, it submits reports to INEC at the end of the election. Don’t underestimate the reports you file because they assist us in proposing reforms to the National Assembly each time there is an opportunity. So, we don’t accredit observer groups just for the fun of it”, he stated.

NBA president, Yakubu Maikyau, noted that free and fair elections can only be achieved if the people are allowed to make their choices of leaders and have confidence in the electoral body saddled with the responsibility of conducting the elections.

He said; “With the good work you have done in the commission, you have earned the confidence of Nigerians as an umpire properly positioned to deliver a free, fair and credible election.

 

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