Administrative Law, Election

Interim Government; What you need to know

Following the 2023 general elections conducted on the 25th of February (presidential and National Assembly) and 18th of March (gubernatorial and state house of assembly) 2023, some Nigerian citizens as well as candidates of other contesting parties have expressed dissatisfaction with the results of the elections and has therefore seek redress in the court.

However, there has been news of a plot by some unidentified persons to forestall the inauguration of the elected president and install an interim government. This was disclosed by Peter Afunanya the Spokesman of the Department of State Services on Wednesday 29th March 2023.

This article will answer questions bothering on interim government and when it can be made

What is an Interim Government?

The word interim means a period of temporary pause or change in a sequence of events or a temporary state. It is a temporary organizational arrangement and is often applied to transitional political entities.

Therefore, an interim government is an emergency governmental authority set up to manage a political transition, sometimes in the case of a newly formed country or following the collapse of a previous administration. It can be an unelected government established for an interim period or an elected government that remain provisionally in place pending the successful conduct of an election. This can be at the state or federal level.

Circumstances that can lead to Interim Government

  1. Where it is not practicable to hold elections: Section 135 (3) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “If the Federation is at war in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the President considers that it is not practicable to hold elections, the National Assembly may by resolution extend the period of four years mentioned in subsection (2) of this section from time to time, but no such extension shall exceed a period of six months at any one time.” This means that, after the expiration of the 2nd tenure of an elected president in Nigeria, and the country is at war which has made conducting elections impracticable, the National Assembly may by resolution extend the tenure of the President by six months.
  2. Interim Government can also be a result of regime collapse, negotiated agreement, special election, transitioning of government regime, or international intervention.

Occurrence of Interim Government Across the World

An interim government is not new to the political structure of the world. Several countries have experienced interim governments at one point or the other in their politics. Examples are South Africa 1993-1994, Lebanon 1989-1992, Peru 2000-2001, Angola 2002-2008 etc. Nigeria also experienced an interim government on august 27, 1993 which was a result of the crisis caused by the June 12th, 1993 presidential election where Moshood Abiola won but the results were annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida. The interim government was led by Ernest Shonekan and it lasted for 82 days after which it was dissolved when General Sani Abacha seized power on 17 November 1993.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Interim Government

An interim government can create a pathway for previously violent actors in government to transition to more peaceful legal conduct and behaviour, it can lead to a balance of power and a smooth transition to an elected government, it makes it more difficult for previously powerful forces to regain influence.

On the other hand, it has the potential to plunge the country into crisis if not properly managed, a threat to security, and can lead to the destruction of government, accounting systems, and public infrastructure, corruption and the inability to keep skilled workers, and cash-flow concerns including difficulties in paying the salaries of public servants.