By Alo Abiola
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanoipekun (SAN) has said the raging debate over President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection bid was unnecessary, saying the president has the constitutional right to seek reelection.
The legal luminary stated this at the weekend after the foundation laying ceremony of the new St. Peter’s Anglican Church building, in Oke’kere, Ikere-Ekiti.
Harping on the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek reelection in 2019, he contended that running for the presidency is the constitutional right of Buhari and other Nigerians interested in that position and any other elective office.
“Frankly speaking, he has a right, but in contesting others should be able to say ‘I am better than him’ and he should prove that he is better than them and Nigerians should make their choice.
“But we should not disallow others from expressing their own views. Contesting elections is one’s constitutional right. Did Obasanjo not contest for second term? Did Jonathan not contest for second term?
“Why should his (Buhari’s) be different? Others also have a right to contest and if he (Buhari) is contesting on the platform of his political party, he does not have superior right over other candidates.
“So, it is left to Nigerians to make a choice; don’t let anyone bully you that h create jobs for the unemployed Nigerians, saying poverty can be stopped in Nigeria politically when ballot box is respected by all.
The eminent lawyer who expressed disappointment over politicians’ penchant for vote buying at elections in the country said the practice has aggravated poverty in the land.
“To me, it is worse than crime against humanity when you defraud the ballot box. The ballot box, to me, is holy, the ballot box represents the collective conscience of all of us and nobody must defraud it. Let us respect the sanctity of the ballot box.
“Don’t buy voters to vote for you and stop distributing money on the day of election. You stay there and say to voters ‘go and vote, show me this, then come and take your money.
“Then there cannot be poverty alleviation because when you get there, you are not going to respect voters, you are not going to respect their children.
“You will want to recoup what you have spent because you see it as an investment, your family sees it as an investment, they want you to recoup it.
“By the time you buy them, you will forget them and those who want to surrender their conscience for pittance, let them remember that they are doing it at the risk of their children, their own selves, their future generation.”
While advising Nigerians to ask questions from those seeking public offices while candidates running should unfold their manifestos and programmes to voters, he said: “In this season of election and electioneering, my plea is that anybody who wants to contest, let him or her contest and let us listen to them.
“Everybody has a right to contest as long as he or she meets the requirements of the law. I have the right to vote for the candidate of my choice. Let us listen to those who want to occupy elective offices: state Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, governorship, presidency. I am not one of those who will say no, this man should not contest, why?