'The Tenure Of Goodluck Jonathan Ends In 2015,' President Affirms
ABUJA, July 28, (THEWILL) – President Goodluck Jonathan at two separate events in Abuja Thursday reiterated that the proposed single tenure option for the President and 36 state Governors, which he articulated on Tuesday in a press statement, is not a ploy to extend his stay in office, insisting that his tenure as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would come to an end in 2015.
The President made the declaration at the 57th National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja and during a State House briefing by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati.
Jonathan accused some opposition politicians and a section of the media of spinning his recommendation to look like an attempt to extend his tenure in office, adding that the single tenure proposal was not actually his original idea. He said it was one of the recommendations that an inter-party committee (ACN not included) made to the Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwias Electoral Reforms panel, which was set up by his predecessor, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2008.
The President said he had casually asked one or two persons whether they preferred the single or double tenure for the President and Governors but admitted that no serious consultations had taken place on the very contentious matter. He said he decided to make his thoughts public via the press statement from the presidency because someone had leaked it to the press that he was considering a tenure extension for himself.
Jonathan assured that lots of consultations would be embarked on before the bill makes it to congress. He admitted that he had not even mentioned it to the 36 governors who he said are key to the actualisation of the constitutional amendment and warned those heating up the polity with the tenure extension talk to refrain from doing so henceforth.
“I had asked some people whether a single tenure is a better option than a double tenure. Before I take any decision I ask people but that is not the end of the consultation. Before I can send such a bill to the National Assembly, I will consult the governors because any constitutional amendment involves the states and if they are not on the same page with you, there is no way such amendment can easily sail through, Jonathan said.
In a press briefing earlier on Thursday, the President’s spokesman, Dr Abati said the President like every other Nigerian enjoys the freedom of speech and expression of ideas and thoughts and accused the opposition of trying to take that right away from President Jonathan.
“If you look at the reaction by the opposition, one thing that seems to come out of that is the impression that they seem to be giving that the President as a Nigerian does not have the right to free speech.
“The President as an individual like every other individual under the constitution has that right to the freedom of expression and I think that the proposal that he has made ought to be seen primarily in that context.
“Secondly as leader and as a citizen and as a man who is the leader of Nigeria at this moment, a leader has every right to express his vision to say this is where I want the country to go, this is what I think is in the best interest of Nigeria given our current level of political development.
“The third point to note is that this is a democracy and the statement that has been made by Mr. President is not in anyway a military order, it is just a proposal. The fact that it is not a military order means the proposal does not have an immediate effect, the decision at the end of the day will be that of the Nigerian people. Everyone knows that such a proposal will have to go through due process and the President is a man who has said again and again that he will not do anything that is against the rule of law. What that means therefore is that this proposal will still first go through the executive council of the federation, it will be debated at that level, it will be discussed, it will be examined and if the executive council feels that there is merit to it then a bill will be prepared and forwarded to the national assembly. And then the National Assembly will debate it, the Nigerian people will debate and the decision at the end of the day will be that of the Nigerian people.
“What I find again in some of the reactions of the opposition, is that some of the reactions have been patently abusive or if you like insulting; it’s been suffused with a lot of name calling. I think that politicians have a right to be partisan because it is the nature of politicians to be partisan. However where national interest is involved a certain level of objectivity is important and people should subordinate their partisan interest to the national interest,” Abati stated.
President Jonathan's Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, at Thursday's briefing.
Speaking further he said, “That statement was a two paged statement and it provides a basis for the recommendation that is made therein. Which is that, elections in this country tend to be a life and death struggle, people go into office the only thing they focus on is to get a second term by all means and hence governance suffers. And again the cost of electioneering in the country is very huge, a lot of money is expended during primaries, during elections, just getting to political office becomes on a four year basis almost a consuming desperate passion. The truth of the matter is that many of the security challenges we have in this country at the moment are tied to this desperation for power, you can believe it, and that there are people in this country who are already preparing for the next election. They are putting together private armies together, they are recruiting able bodied men, political enforcers with the hope that when it is the next election these are the people who will force the issues for them and these are the arguments stated in part in this document.
"What one will expect is that the beauty of the opposition in any country at all is not for the opposition to engage in name calling, but for the opposition to weigh what has been proposed and to come up with superior logic if it has,” the Spokesman added.