Buhari Can’t Stay Beyond 2023, Olanipekun Tackles Clarke

Chief Wole Olanipekun

•Says call is threat to democracy, national security

Alex Enumah

Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, has taken a swipe at Chief Robert Clarke, another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, for seeking an extension of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

Clarke, a few days ago, had cited security challenges as threat to the 2023 general election, and said President Buhari should be allowed to continue as President after May 29, until a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of the elections.

But Olanipekun, while reacting, described Clarke’s statement as unconstitutional, immoral and threat to the nation’s democracy.

Olanipekun, in his opposition to Clarke, noted that the only situation where election could be shifted, was if the nation was at war with a foreign country as provided in Section 135(3).

The former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), however, contended that the current security challenge in the country could not be equated with war envisaged under Section 135(3) of the Constitution and urged President Buhari to resist every temptation to stay in power at the expiration of his tenure.

Olanipekun, who wondered why Clarke, who condemned ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s bid for a third term, would turn around to advise Buhari to engage in direct breach of the Constitution, said Buhari was not expected to deal with all the nation’s challenges before vacating office.

“I am afraid, I cannot agree with the postulations and prognosis of my learned friend of the Inner Bar (Clarke) as, same, with much respect to him, are not constitutional, legal, legitimate, moral, democratic, acceptable, reasonable, or in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

“While it is glaring that Nigeria is bedeviled by a mountain of daunting challenges, including insecurity, this cannot be any justification for a call for PMB or any President, howsoever, to extend his tenure outside the constitutionally provided maximum period of eight years, as prescribed by the combined provisions of sections 135(2) and 137(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“With further respect, the suggestion is a direct call to breach of the Constitution, as well as its spirit, tenor and letter. There is no gainsaying the fact that the end result of such a proposition would further compound the conundrum that we have steeped into and, plunge us to a latent state of anomie.

“It is quite disturbing, unfortunate, uncheering, and very worrisome that since 1999, Nigeria has been migrating from one problem to another, oscillating from one crisis to another; graduating from one degree of catastrophe to another; as a result of which the landscape has become a practicing pitch for all sorts of theories, ideologies, ideas, suggestions, prognosis and hypothesis, the last of which has just come from the respected Chief Robert Clarke, SAN,” he said.

While Olanipekun noted that the suggestion if considered at all, would further compound the woes of the nation and terminate the survival of the current democratic dispensation, he advised President Buhari to tread cautiously with any invitation to him to extend his tenure by a millisecond beyond  May 29, 2023.

“In parenthesis, the President does not have the power to extend his tenure; no President has that power or vires to so do. The tenure was given to him by Nigerians and, as at the time of donating that tenure to him, the covenant between the donors and the donee was that in the first instance, it was for a term certain of four years; and upon renewal in 2019, it was for an extended term certain of four years; no more, no less,” he added.