NEW LAW MAY BAR JONATHAN FROM CONTESTING IN 2015
President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan's proposed bill seeking a single six-year tenure for the president and state governors will include a transitional clause, investigations have shown.
Our correspondent gathered on Sunday that Jonathan had directed government lawyers to ensure that he was excluded from the 2015 presidential race. The transitional clause, sources say, will provide for the exclusion.
The move to include a transitional clause began on Sunday just as Chief Chekwas Okorie, a member of the 2008 inter-party committee, confirmed that the proposal was discussed by the group.
Okorie, a former Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said the proposal, which was submitted by the Peoples Democratic Party, was rejected by opposition parties in the committee.
Our correspondent also reports that the single term bill will decide the fate of nine governors who will be eligible for second term in 2015.
The governors are Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun); Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano); Ibrahim Dankwabo (Gombe); Bukar Shetima (Borno); Abdulazeez Yari (Zamfara); AbdulFattah Ahmed (Kwara); Alhaji .Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa); and Chief Rochas Okorocha (Imo).
It was learnt that the President instructed that the transitional clause in the bill should state in specific terms whether the governors could contest the 2015 governorship poll or not.
The source said, 'The decision not to re-contest the presidential poll in 2015 is strictly personal for the President. He will not like to impose his decision on the governors, who are eligible to re-contest.'
Investigations revealed that Jonathan believed that the transitional clause would win support for the bill.
According to the source, 'The President is not happy with criticisms that have trailed his proposal. In order to show that he has no hidden agenda, he has directed that the bill should include a transitional clause, excluding him from the 2015 presidential race.'
'Although the fate of the nine governors has not been determined, there is a suggestion that the governors should be allowed to go for a second term of four years,' he explained.
Jonathan on Tuesday had disclosed that he would send a bill seeking a single term for the president and state governors to the National Assembly.
However, opposition parties on Wednesday condemned the proposal on the grounds that it was a ploy to elongate Jonathan's tenure.
Reacting to the criticisms, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, had said that Jonathan was aware of the concerns trailing the single tenure proposal.
The presidential aide had said, 'He is fully aware of the concerns of Nigerians and he is resolute in upholding the statement that he will not be a beneficiary.
'But, you see, it is early day yet with regards to that. We have to wait until that proposal becomes a bill, the National Assembly debates it and we all know the details.'
When asked to be categorical on whether Jonathan would seek another term or not, Abati had said, 'I think the statement he made in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is that he will not seek a second term in office, but now that this issue has come up afresh I will get you the answers you are looking for.'
Meanwhile Okorie, on Sunday said a single tenure option was discussed at the Inter-Party consultative Committee on Electoral Reforms set up by the late President, Umaru Yar'Adua in 2008.
Okorie, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said that the PDP delegation to the committee made the recommendation but was opposed by opposition political parties.
He said that the report from the presidential committee was compiled by President Jonathan, who was then vice-president and Chairman, and his Secretary, Idabawa.
He said that he was opposed to the tenure proposal not because of the speculations that the President might benefit from it but because of its implications on democratic governance.
He said that public office holders elected for a single term could ignore the wishes and expectations of the electorate since they would not go back to them for re-election.
He said, 'Well, I think it was a proposal by the PDP. You know all the parties had one memo or the other. What they said was seven years.
'All the memos were discussed. The PDP suggested seven years for the president, five years for governors, three years for local government chairmen. It was tabled and debated and rejected because it was not very easy for one party to dominate.
'Idabawa, was secretary, then former Deputy Chief of Staff, who is now Chief of Staff, Mike Ogiadhome, attended; the proposal was turned down. It was easy for the parties to see it as an elongation agenda for Yar'Adua,
'The committee sat for six time and we missed only one because of a seminar we had in Enugu and, as a policy, decisions reached were passed on to others. But at the end of the committee, it was the then Vice President, and the Secretary, who compiled the report and submitted it to President Yar'Adua.
'It was only the two of them that signed the final report. Opposition parties do not have a copy of the final report. It was difficult to find out if that aspect was incorporated into the report.'
But the National Vice Chairman of the PDP for the North East, Chief Paul Wampana, told our correspondent on the telephone on Sunday that the issue was extensively discussed.
He said that he had recommended a single tenure of seven years for the President and governors as a solution to the abuse of the powers of incumbency during elections.
'I was a member of the committee and I recommended seven years single tenure. I was part of those that said that a single tenure was necessary so that nobody would abuse government privileges to win election,' he added.