The Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, has called on Nigerians to be vigilant following the growing rumour of a third term bid for President Muhammadu Buhari.
It also took a swipe at the Nigerian Senate for devoting its legislative time to debating the ‘hate speech bill’ which it described as a gag bill aimed at taking away the freedom of speech.
After its meeting on Tuesday in Akure, the group in a communique noted that the meeting took note of the rumoured plans to subvert the Constitution of Nigeria to allow President Buhari to have a third term in office which, it said, started with an APC senatorial candidate in Bauchi last year during a bye-electiion declaring that he was coming to the Senate to work for a third term for Buhari.
“This was followed by the president who has a maximum of possible 8 years in office telling the country he was going to lift 100million Nigerians out of poverty in TEN years,” the communique read.
“To douse the tension the rumoured plot is generating, the president made a denial a few days ago which we took with a pinch of salt because it is not the first time politicians would pursue what they are denying in Nigeria swearing with Allah/God.
“We have not forgotten that General Buhari told this country in 2011 that he would do only one term if he became President.
“He is now on a second term. He also promised Nigerians in 2015 that he would not have the office of the First Lady as President. He was mute when the wife issued an order that she must be addressed as First Lady and he has gone ahead to appoint 6 aides for the office.”
Afenifere said it observed that the reason given by the president for not thinking of a third term is the Constitutional limit of two terms without talking about what he would do if that hindrance was removed.
“With the National Assembly in the pocket, the only hurdle left to change that provision would be two-thirds of Houses of Assembly and we have seen the president holding a meeting of 36 speakers.
“And shortly after this meeting, an APC member in Ebonyi State has approached a Federal High Court to compel the National Assembly to remove the constitutional impediments against third term for president and governors,” the group reason.
“We have seen this fire before for this smoke not to be strange to us.
“Afenifere therefore calls on Nigerians to be vigilant and thwart any attempt to take the country for a ride once again.
“We advise the president to use his LAST term in office to create legacies that will place him on the good pages of history, including setting Nigeria on a Federal path that will allow the constituent units of Nigeria to develop and maximise path instead of pursuing any ruinous agenda.”
Third term became part of the Nigerian lexicon after efforts to constitutionally pave the way for Olusegun Obasanjo to do a third term as president in 2007, failed.
On the hate speech bill, Afenifere said it was miffed that in the midst of all the challenges facing Nigerians, the Senate would be concerned with a law to hang people for exercising their freedom of speech and airing views those in power may not like.
“The attempt to take away the freedom of expression earned through the sweat and blood of patriots is not only wicked but portrays us as a barbaric polity that operates by tenets of the jungle,” the group said.
“Meeting called on Nigerians not to succumb to this totalitarian agenda.
All countries that cherish freedom of speech are called upon to shut their borders against all Senators who have spoken in favour of the bill to protect the right of man to air his view without prejudice to the laws of libel.”
Afenifere also lamented that human life has become so cheap and unworthy in Nigeria that over four months after the murder in broad daylight of the daughter of the group’s leader, Funke Olakunrin, the police had not found any clue about the perpetrators of the act and had not given any brief to the family.
“We are left with no option than to conclude at this stage that the death of Mrs Olakunrin is a political assassination given the non-challant attitude of the police,” the communique further read.
“This widespread disregard for the sanctity of human life is worrisome as we saw even women dancing all over Kogi singing “ta ta ta ta” during the recent election with people’s lives wasted with impunity.
“The dastardly act of burning to death of Mrs Salome Abuh even after that declaration of a winner attests to the promotion of the culture of violence.
“Meeting insisted that any country that fails to get the perpetrators of these murders and their types to face the law has its hands soaked in blood with its consequences.”
The police in Ondo had said investigations into Mrs Olakunrin’s death were ongoing and the report would be made public once there was a development.
Femi Joseph, the police spokesperson in the state, had denied that the police were nonchalant about apprehending the culprits.