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Nigeria Govt Dismisses Opposition's Call for an Interim Government

The federal government of Nigeria has dismissed a request by opposition parties for an interim national government to be sworn in after May 29 instead of the inauguration of President-elect Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'adua and the 36 elected governors. In restated its rejection of the April general election results, the opposition say the interim government would organize and conduct credible elections to salvage what the parties describe as failed democracy. But the government says the request is an attempt to set the country's democracy clock backwards.

Frank Nweke is Nigeria’s minister for information. From the capital, Abuja he told VOA that the opposition’s call is alien to the constitution.

“This call is not new to us at all. It is something the government has been aware of for a very long time. In fact, we can confirm that some opposition elements were actually not preparing for elections, even while others were campaigning and preparing for elections, with the hope that through agitation they can undermine the credibility and integrity of the ultimate outcome of the elections,” Newke pointed out.

He reiterated that the opposition’s call for an interim government is immature.

“Now, the position of government is very clear and very simple, and that is that the call for the establishment of an interim national government is unconstitutional and unacceptable. Elections have taken place in Nigeria and again I put on record that the fact that the government has noted the concerns expressed by individuals, and different groups and our position is that, we make no claims, whatsoever, that we have a perfect democracy in Nigeria. We believe that the democracy of our dreams can only evolve through practice,” he said.

Nweke said the opposition parties should have stayed within the confines of the law.

“The rules of the game have been clearly defined in the constitution… and you cannot claim you are practicing democracy unless you are straight with the laws that govern this politics. There is nowhere in our constitution, there is no law in our land that has given room for interim national government. The law says if you feel aggrieved, you should go to the tribunal… if they are truly democrats, they would then take their recourse to the tribunal,” he noted.

He said there is no perfect constitution anywhere in the world.

“I believe that no constitution in the world is perfect and I believe there is no perfect democracy in the world, even in America, there have been issues with the democracy even over two hundred years after they started practicing this democracy. And in order to get to the kind of stable status they now enjoy, they went through a lot of hiccups, and that is the context of what in which what is happening in Nigeria,” he noted.

Nweke said President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government is committed to seeing democracy take root in Nigeria.

“What we are saying is that there is a genuine commitment to a perfect status, at least something everybody agree is the right way to go. And we believe that it is not by canceling elections, it is not by engaging in unconstitutional act that you can evolve the democracy of your choice…democracy again is not an event, it’s a process, and electioneering is one significant aspect of democracy,” he said.