Interim National Government at a Glance

The most breathtaking twist that characterized the post-2023 presidential elections has been the call for an Interim National Government (ING) in Nigeria. This development though ill-perceived might be leading to the unprecedented, as we can clearly recall what happened in Nigeria on 27 August 1993, when General Ibrahim Babangida handed power over to Ernest Shonekan as interim Head of State.

What is an interim government?

To those who may not know, an Interim National Government (ING), is an emergency governmental authority set up to manage a political transition generally in the cases of a newly formed state; this means that an interim government is mostly optional in peculiar cases where especially a newly birthed state.

For the records:

Nigeria has had her fair share of the historical background to an interim government which cannot be ignored in a hurry, especially at this critical time. In August 1993,  the June-12 presidential election landed with a lot of back-and-forths which stalled the inauguration of an elected government into power.

It consequently led to the handing over of power to a provisional government, otherwise referred to as an interim government. The interim government was to oversee the affairs of the state until a legitimately elected government was inaugurated into office. In fact, the interim government was a government of transition; it was to prepare the grounds to welcome the acceptable government.

Merits:

There is no vacuum in government, hence the interim government. The seat of the head of state or president cannot be left vacant for any reason, hence the need for an interim government.  Also, the government and people cannot just wait until issues arising from the election are completely resolved before enthroning a government hence the interim government.

Demerits:

According to Media reports, history and other sources, the interim government of 1993 in Nigeria practically had its challenges as it were. These challenges are most likely the reasons some citizens contend with the idea of an interim government. 

Ernest Shonekan was the head of the Interim National Government in 1993. Shoenkan had a degree in Law. He also studied at the Harvard Business School in the US and held senior management positions in various companies. Besides, he was president of Babangida’s Transitional Council at the time.

Under the ING Nigeria suffered inflation and saw strikes by workers in various sectors. Most foreign investors withdrew from oil companies. The head of the ING Shonekan made efforts to have government debt forgiven.  He drew up a timetable for a return to democracy and for the withdrawal of Nigeria’s contingent of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group  (ECOMOG)’s peacekeeping force in Liberia.

Furthermore, no clear process was given for holding fresh elections, and there was general political uncertainty under the Shonekan government, a condition that became a serious concern for citizens. The ING faced media campaigns against the delay in return to democracy and the continued involvement of the military in politics. The government was opposed by pro-democracy activists, civil society organizations, Labour Unions and students.

However, the Lagos high court nullified Shonekan’s appointment and called for Abiola to be sworn in as the elected candidate for the presidency on 17 November 1993, Ernest Shonekan resigned and handed over government to a senior Military General Sani Abacha.

Effect on Democracy:

As clearly seen from the brief historical glance above, the interim government can pave the way for a military takeover. In fact, the interim government puts a pause on democratic leadership. It weakens democracy; placing both democracy and dictatorship on a 50/50 return plan, of which either form of government, can swing into power.

Effect on the Economy:

The Interim Government doesn’t give room for the best hands, thus anyone can be the head, in which case economic novices can ruin, cripple and destroy the state‚Äôs economy terribly. Interim leadership can somersault viable economic policies and programs, which endangers the state. The government of interim leadership is characterized by uncertainty, and judging from Nigeria’s past experiences, it is a danger to democracy.

Should Nigerians accept Interim National Government?

It is safe to say that Nigeria has not proven that it values true democracy. Nigeria’s proof that it wants and values true democracy is what will determine whether Nigerians will accept or reject the Interim Government. The Interim Government is capable of anarchy.