Legal Icon and founder, Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola(SAN), yesterday, advised the federal government to suspend the 2023 elections and allow a 6-month interim goverment after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure that would give a new constitution that would tackle insecurity, economic, political and other ills bedeviling the nation.
Periscoping the country’s high poverty and currency devaluation in the international market, Babalola, who declared that Nigeria now faced imminent bankruptcy due to alleged gross mismanagement by corrupt leaders, leading to free fall in naira’s value, maintained that no good leader could emerge under the current constitution.
He has also recommended a new constitution that would peg the age limit of those seeking to be president, governors and members of the National Assembly at 60.
Babalola said this in ABUAD at a press conference he addressed and entitled: ‘Postpone 2023 Elections: Six Months Interim Government After Buhari’s Government’.
The Senior Lawyer lamented that Nigeria had shed enough tears and blood due to increasing cases of killings, kidnapping and banditry, without responses from those at the helms of affairs, saying the 2023 remained the best opportunity to chart a new course for the nation.
Babalola said: “I decided to talk, because this country is now different from the one I used to know. That is why we need a new constitution after President Muhammadu Buhari that will spell out rules and regulations on the qualifications of those who are qualified to contest elections.
“I believe that whoever is seeking elections as a president, governors and National Assembly members should not be more than 60 years, with good and sound health, sound education, experience, good human relations, friendliness and firmness, vision and mission, among others.
“The new constitution shall provide for part time legislators and not full time and the attendant wasting of resources, who will be collecting allowances and not salaries. Proposes federal system of government rather than presidential system and a parliamentary system with a unicameral legislature”.
On the fast nosediving economy, Babalola bemoaned that the country was gradually collapsing, arising from poor management of the economy, saying the naira, which was N199 to $1 in 2015, has marked up to over N570 to a dollar.
“The external debt, which was $10.7bn in 2015 is now over $38 billion. The government is borrowing more, spending more, but earning less revenues. The worse thing is that the debt servicing level is also rising.
“In 2020, Nigeria was ranked as the poorest country in the world with over 50 per cent of Nigerians living in extreme poverty while over 70 million Nigerians are in urgent need of life saving assistance.
“I am of the firm conviction that moneybags now control the lever of powers. If we allow the present constitution beyond 2023, what we will be getting is recycling leadership, who will continue the old ways.
“We need a constitution that will throw up young, brilliant, dedicated people to save this country. We can’t get all these under the present constitution.
“We need a new set of leaders in our nation. Leaders, who will not see themselves as Mr Know-All and who will not see themselves as above anyone,” he said.
Babalola, therefore, added that no good leader could emerge under the present deformed and weak constitution, adding that, the leadership couldn’t afford to toy with the destiny of the nation by conducting elections that would not yield positive results.