FOUR-YEAR TENURE IS ENOUGH
Not quite long ago, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan stated that four-year tenure is too small for public office holders to make a difference. He was quoted as saying that 'before a public office holder could settle down and familiarize with the terrain, one out of the constitutional allowed four years would have gone.'
Though, as the president of Africa's most populous nation, Jonathan has right to bare his mind on issues. I really do not know what prompted him to make the statement. If it is based on experience, maybe there are more to it than meets the eye. If not, there may be no need for it at this time.
Since the president made the utterance, it has attracted lots of comments, some supportive and others disagreeing. I tend to ally myself with the latter. Jonathan's fair comment may be highly misunderstood, especially in a fractured polity like ours and also coming out of the most vicious post-election violence ever witnessed in this part of the world plus the heat generated by PDP's zoning formula, the heat is still on.
I do not want to recast events leading to the emergence of Jonathan as the PDP's presidential candidate for the just concluded general polls. Mallam Adamu Ciroma and co. had insisted that the post of the president under the PDP zoning formula should go to the North after the death of Umaru Yar'Adua. This argument was punctured by many Nigerians, especially those from the South-south geo-political zone who argued that Jonathan should complete what Yar'Adua and him started because theirs was a joint ticket. Both sides then appeared so persuasive but at the end of the day, Jonathan became the PDP flag-bearer and emerged victorious at the polls, post-election violence notwithstanding.
I remember vividly that I supported Joe's candidature based on certain reasons. One is that no Nigerian incumbent president has been denied re-election based on a party's arrangement. His emergence on the nation's political scene and the events surrounding it was not ordinary. It was divine. Two, his region has not produced the president of the country.
Denying them this chance will be terrible. Three, the PDP zoning formula is not recognized by the constitution. Barring him to contest based on the PDP zoning formula will contravene the constitution. Also, I see his candidature as one that will heal the wounds in the Niger Delta region and help stop the restiveness in the region. Four, I believe that excluding Joe from the contest will infringe on his fundamental human rights to seek for elective post in the country.
Fifth, among the candidates, Joe appears to me the most popular that can swing votes. His candidature came at the right time. These and other reasons must have accounted for why he won the poll. He promised that he will run for one term in office, which is in line with the argument of completing the journey he started with Yar'Adua before death struck. He promised to execute the Yar'Adua's agenda and transform the entire country.
I still believe that he can abide by that decision to do only one term.
But his recent statement that a four-year term is too short may be open to different interpretations. Some may see it as inkling for a review of the four-year term, while others may see it as a subtle campaign for a second term. Whichever it is, it is still too early in the life of this administration.
To me, four years is enough for a leader to prove himself. Nobody expects that in a four-year term that all the problems of the country would be solved. Nevertheless, four years is enough for a leader to make an appreciable impact. The late General Murtala Muhammed spent only six months in office and yet made indelible marks in the nation's leadership that people still remember him with nostalgia. Jesus Christ's earthly ministry lasted for three years yet the impact is monumental even till today.
Anyone that says that four years is not enough, I do not think that five or six years will be enough for him.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo spent eight years in office and still wanted a third term. Thank goodness, Nigerians worked against such illegality. Obasanjo's experiment has amply demonstrated that the problem is not with the number of years but what the leader wants to offer. Not many governors have really justified the eight years they stayed in office. The first four years is what some of them have justified in order to get a second chance at the pie. Some of them have really abused the second term. Let's hope there will be a change of attitude this time around.
So, what Joe should do now is to hit the ground running with his agenda. He should worry less about the shortness of the four years. He should select tested men and women to help him do the work. Names of ministers to be submitted to the National Assembly must go with their portfolios so that he or she will be asked the relevant questions instead of recite the national anthem or the pledge as the case maybe; plus the usual take a bow. All the governors should do the same. They were not elected to work alone. They need a result-oriented team that will deliver democracy dividends. Where they stopped, others will start. Government is a continuum and not a four-year business.
The trial of Dimeji Bankole
The commencement of the trial of the erstwhile Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole by the operatives of the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is in order. With this trial, the EFCC has really shown to Nigerians that nobody is above the laws of the land. It is also interesting that more legislators will soon join Bankole to explain their involvement in the billion naira saga. It is unfortunate that those we put into position of trust and authority are the very ones that abuse such offices.
While urging the EFCC to get at the root of the matter and punish all those found culpable in the infractions, I call on the commission to extend its dragnets and beam its searchlights on some state governors that had lost their immunity and are alleged to have been involved in corrupt practices while in office. It is annoying that some of these ex-governors were allowed to jet out of the country some days to the hand-over date on May 29.
The only way the EFCC can convince Nigerians that the anti-graft war is on is to ensure that all corrupt politicians are prosecuted. Trying some and leaving some, no matter the excuse, is untenable and tends to suggest sacred cowism in the system, which I do not think is the true reflection of Mrs. Farida Waziri-led commission.
To Hope Uzodimma and Jerry Alagbaoso
I want to use this medium to congratulate my able representatives at the National Assembly, Senator Hope Uzodimma representing Orlu Senatorial Zone in the Upper Legislative Chamber and Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso representing Orsu/Oru-East and Orlu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. Having been elected to represent us at the Federal level and having noticed that we have been short-changed in the past, it should no longer be business as usual. You should ensure that constituency projects get to us.
We need good roads, potable water and health facilities. We need cottage industries and federal presence in our area. You should not disappoint those that voted you into power. You should be held accountable if our zone and constituency are denied of democracy dividends at federal level this time around.
I wish you successful outing at the National Assembly.