By Ismaila Chafe
The Presidency has dismissed Chief Roberts Clarke’s call for the extension of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration by six months.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
He restated that Buhari would handover to democratically elected winners of the forthcoming 2023 general elections be May 29.
The presidential media aide stated that the Buhari administration was committed to extending and entrenching democratic values across the country.
He affirmed that respect for the constitution and Nigerians’ democratic rights remains the best path to securing and maintaining peace.
The statement read in part: ”In response to the Senior Advocate of Nigeria’s recent remarks, the Presidency wishes to state as follows:
”Chief Robert Clarke, a very well-respected elder may be sincere in his wish for the President to extend his term by six months.
”We wish to categorically restate that the President will step down on May 29th, 2023, after serving two terms – as per the constitution.
”Having been the first recipient of a democratic transfer of power from an incumbent administration to an opposition candidate in Nigerian history, the President is committed to extending and entrenching democratic values across the country.
”He shall, in turn, hand the privilege of serving the people of Nigeria to whomever they choose through free, fair and credible elections.
”However, Chief Clarke is right to say that without security, Nigeria would not likely realize its true potential as a peaceful and prosperous nation. That is why it has been at the core of this administration.
”The results are there for all to see. Boko Haram have been forced back from controlling whole swathes of this country. Internally Displaced Persons are now returning to rebuild their communities.”
According to Shehu, these achievements have been accomplished through the bravery and determination of the Nigerian armed forces and the fortitude of the citizens.
“New challenges have arisen and tackled in turn – whether it’s the National Livestock Transformation Plan to alleviate herder-farmer clashes, the elimination of the leadership of ISWAP, or new efforts to combat banditry.”
He maintained that until the last day of the administration, ”the security of the citizens shall remain the administration’s paramount concern.
”We shall finish the job. Yet, in any case, respect for the constitution and Nigerians’ democratic rights remains the best path to securing and then maintaining peace”.
Shehu also reacted to an earlier call by Chief Afe Babalola that the 2023 general elections be suspended in view of the nation’s security challenges.
He said: ”Yet there are others, such as Chief Afe Babalola, that believe elections should be suspended, with the current elected government replaced by an interim unelected administration.
”This, he claims, is necessary to create a new constitution for the people, made possible, paradoxically, by ignoring their democratic rights. Down that path lies crisis and instability.
”Instead, this administration proposes something entirely simpler: honouring the constitution and people’s right to decide.”