From Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti
Aare Afe Babalola, legal icon and founder of Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), has said that with Nigeria’s high poverty and currency devaluation in the international market, the country will soon be plunged into a state of bankruptcy.
The senior lawyer advised the Federal Government to suspend the general elections coming up in 2023 and give room for a six-month interim government after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure to draft a new constitution that would tackle the issues of insecurity, economic, political and other challenges confronting the nation.
He recommended that 60 years should be the age limit for anyone seeking to be President, and those seeking to be Governors and members of the National Assembly under the new constitution
Babalola made the statements at a press conference on Monday, in ABUAD, entitled ‘Postpone 2023 Elections: Six Months Interim Government After Buhari’s Government’.
He expressed regrets over the loud silence of the federal government on the increasing cases of killings, kidnappings and banditry, noting that next year remains the best time to lead the way forward.
‘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,’ Babalola stated.
‘I believe that whoever is seeking elections as a President, governor 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.
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‘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 a federal system of government rather than a presidential system and a parliamentary system with a unicameral legislature.’
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Speaking on the state of the country’s economy, Babalola said the country is fastly collapsing, owing to the poor management of the economy, citing the naira, which was N199 to $1 in 2015, is now over N570 to one 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 revenue. 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,’ he regretted.
Speaking further Babalola said: ‘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 pointed out that the present weak constitution can’t produce good leaders, saying: ‘We can’t afford to toy with the destiny of the nation by conducting elections that won’t yield positive results.’