By Hannu Afere

With President Mohammadu Buhari in his second tenure as president, there have been, as there are wont to be, whispers that he might be interested in a third term in office. Now these are just whispers and some ill advised attempts most notably that of Charles Enya an APC chieftain from Ebonyi State who filed a suit seeking the amendment of the constitution to allow for third terms for both governors and the president. In his suit, Charles Enya went as far as describing the limit of two office terms as ‘discriminatory’.

For those who are not aware, the constitution’s provisions on the subject are crystal clear. In Section 137 (1)(b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is stated thus;

“a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections.”

The Constitution also goes on to make clear the status of the law on the subject of governors too in
section 182 (1)(b) states thus

“no person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections”.

The position of the law is obvious but that does not stop Nigerian politicians from attempting to twist the law into their personal instrument. The President has, to his credit, stated over and over again that he does not intend to run or try to run for a third term, if such a thing were possible. To quote him directly, Muhammadu Buhari has said;

“I’m not going to make the mistake of attempting a third term. Besides the age, the constitution makes provision for only two terms…”

The Buhari Media Organization has put out a statement insisting that the President’s decision not to attempt a third term is a final one. Here’s the problem with those promises, the President does not have a track record of keeping them. He also stated over and over again that given the chance to be President he would not run for a second term in office. We do not need to be reminded of where exactly that promise went, out the window with any hope of economical progress but that is not the point of this article.

What President Buhari chooses to do or not to do is beyond the powers of the average Nigerian. Doubt that? Remember the closing of the border for the average Nigerians’ economic growth? Or the very popular new bills to regulate the use of Social media and the vague definitions of what constitute hate speech? That is just the happenings in the last few months. So Average Nigerian whether or not he will run for a third term is a concern far beyond your pay grade to be brutally honest. Let us consider the questions that you could answer.

If The President decides suddenly towards the end of his second tenure that he would in fact need another four years to fix Nigeria. If he decided in fact that those extra four years are simply essential to the growth of the country and they need to be had with him at the helm, what are you, dear average Nigerian going to do about that decision. The short answer? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The long answer? Social media campaigns brimming with passion and a call to arms (assuming the social media bill does not go through because if it does such passionate outbursts might be criminalized and you will be jailed) then protest marches for the brave few that might quickly taper down after a few days. Perhaps there might even be court cases, international sanctions maybe (plausible but unlikely) and do you know all of that would achieve? Yes, you guessed it, most likely nothing.

That is is what this article is about. It is a not so friendly reminder that for every singular act that we stand against in silence, it creates room for more acts to be done, for little freedoms to be stripped away. So here is the pure unvarnished truth, if Buhari decides to try for a third term there’s a good chance he’ll succeed and there’s a good chance that you will not do anything about it. Your silence and complacency makes you complicit, it makes everyone complicit and the best part? No one is going to do anything about it. That is apparently the way the cookie crumbles.

 

Hannu Afere (c) 2019