Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu on Monday said President Muhammadu Buhari recently came under pressure from political influencers to buck constitutional impediments and seek power for a third term — but quickly emphasised that the Nigerian leader spurned the gambit in favour of existing constitutional stipulations on term limits.“In fact, from 2019, we have seen persuaders come before our very eyes and tell us that leaders should not go; that term limits are a nuisance and should be eliminated,” Mr Shehu said in an appearance on a Channels TV political magazine programme Monday evening..
Mr Shehu did not elaborate on those behind the move, or whether or not the president has enough votes in parliament to push through such a controversial plot. A tenure elongation attempt would have been highly contentious in the country.However, Mr Shehu, who insinuated that his principal was more democratic than past leaders before him, such as presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, said that Mr Buhari was eager to leave office in 2023.
“But Buhari wants to make the point that ‘I am not here to stay a day beyond my term of office and be sure there’ll be an election’,” Mr Shehu added.
To further prop up his principal’s purported democratic bona fides, Mr Shehu excoriated Mr Yar’Adua, who took ill for most of his government and ruled while bedridden.
“We have seen people on death beds unwilling to go, and persuaders are saying ‘no, they will keep power until they go to the grave’,” the presidential spokesman said.
During this period, Mr Yar’Adua’s handlers resisted handing over to then-vice president Goodluck Jonathan, a development that ignited protests as Nigerians called for Mr Yar’Adua to be declared incapacitated and power transferred to Mr Jonathan.
Mr Yar’Adua died in 2010, paving the way for Mr Jonathan to be sworn in as president.
Also, Mr Obasanjo, a two-term president, who served between 1999 to 2003, was rumoured to have attempted a failed manipulation of the Constitution to get tenure elongation.
Recently, Mr Buhari told embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda, that he won’t be seeking a third term.
“Another term for me? No! The first person who tried it didn’t end very well,” the president was quoted by spokesman Femi Adesina as explaining to Mr Johnson in the evening.
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