Elder statesman, Alhaji Maitama Sule, has said that serving elected public officials such as the president and governors seeking re-election must quit office before the conduct of elections.
Sule’s position is contrary to the practice whereby serving public officials stay in office while seeking re-election.
Sule, who is a former permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, spoke at the University of Calabar, during the inaugural edition of the university’s Faculty of Arts international conference.
The theme of the conference was ‘Globalisation and Democratic Values in Africa – Perspectives in Humanities’.
He said it was high time African countries adapted governance to the socio-cultural and economic yearnings of the masses.
The event had in attendance a former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani; ex-deputy President of the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu; a former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife; a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Idongesit Nkanga; among others.
Speaking as the conference Sule, whose address drew the attention of participants, said for true leaders to emerge, those seeking re-election – the president and governors, among others, must resign their positions and hand over to an interim administration that is non-partisan.
He said, “When people are elected into power, they like to perpetuate their stay in power – this is wrong. When people get to power, they only try to enrich themselves. This is not democracy. There is no reason why our democracy in Nigeria and other parts of Africa should not be real democracy.
“If we want to have a free and fair election in Nigeria, few months to the exercise, let the incumbent president and governors who are seeking re-election resign and set up an interim administration that is non-partisan.”
In her opening remarks, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof. Dorothy Oluwagbemi-Jacob, noted that democracy was a cherished value that should be appealing to those yearning for freedom.
Oluwagbemi-Jacob, who was commended by the vice-chancellor of the institution, Prof. Zana Akpagu, said genuine democracy should provide incentives for social infrastructure.