JONATHAN CONFIRMS SINGLE TERM PLAN
President Goodluck Jonathan
In an apparent move to debunk speculations that President Goodluck Jonathan is plotting to alter the tenure of political office holders, the President on Tuesday confirmed that he would be sending a bill to the National Assembly to seek for a single term for the offices of the President and Governors. The President, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, however, denied speculations that the plan was self-serving.
Abati's statement, titled, 'President Jonathan and tenure of office,' however, did not provide details of the proposed bill, particularly, the duration of the proposed single term.
'President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is to send a Constitution amendment Bill to the National Assembly that will provide a single tenure for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Governors of the 36 states of the Federation.
'In the envisaged Bill, the tenure of members of the National and State Assemblies will also be a little more than four years although lawmakers will still be eligible for re-election as their constituencies may determine,' Abati said in the statement.
The amendment, if passed by the National Assembly, will only come into law from 2015, according to the statement.
Further distancing Jonathan from the expected benefits of the amendment, the statement says, 'The President makes it clear that his push for a single tenure for the office of the President and that of the governors is not borne out of any personal interest.
'The proposed amendment will not have anything to do with him as a person; what he owes Nigerians is good governance, and he is singularly committed to this.
'Besides, it is trite law that the envisaged amendment cannot have a retroactive effect.
'This means that whatever single-term tenure that is enacted into law by the National Assembly will take effect from 2015.
'If the proposed amendment is accepted by the National Assembly, the President assures that he will not in any way be a beneficiary.'
The statement further explains why Jonathan is seeking to introduce a single tenure for the executive.
According to the statement, the constitutionally guaranteed two terms for presidents and governors is not helping the polity.
The cost of organising party primaries and general elections every four years, as well as the acrimony that they generate, is the most prominent reason given for the proposed amendment.
The statement stresses that Jonathan's intentions are patriotic.
Parts of the statement reads, 'President Jonathan's commitment to a single term for the president and governors is borne out of a patriotic zeal, after a painstaking study and belief that the constitutionally guaranteed two terms for presidents and governors is not helping the focus of governance and institutionalisation of democracy at this stage of our development.
'A longer term for lawmakers would also help to stabilise the polity.
'President Jonathan is concerned about the acrimony which the issue of re-election, every four years, generates both at the federal and state levels.
'The nation is still smarting from the unrest, the desperation for power and the overheating of the polity that has attended each general election, the fall-out of all this is the unending inter and intra-party squabbles which have affected the growth of party democracy in the country, and have further undermined the country's developmental aspirations.
'In addition, the costs of conducting party primaries and the general elections have become too high for the economy to accommodate every four years.
'The proposed amendment Bill is necessary to consolidate our democracy and allow elected executives to concentrate on governance and service delivery for their full term, instead of running governments with re-election as their primary focus.'
The statement adds that the 'clarification has become necessary in the light of certain reports in a section of the media that the proposed Bill is meant to elongate President Goodluck Jonathan's tenure. Nothing can be more untrue.'
'The amendment is part of the President's transformational agenda,' the statement says.
Continuing, the statement reads, 'The energy that has been devoted to speculations on the content of the likely bill is akin to an attempt to force the abortion of a non-existent pregnancy.
'The details of the Bill will be clear in terms of its provisions when it is forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration.
'The President also states that the greater good of Nigeria is greater than the ambition of any one individual.
'The envisaged Bill is part of the Jonathan administration's transformational agenda aimed at sanitising the nation's politics.
'The President believes that this single move, when actualised, will change the face of our politics and accelerate the overall development of our nation.'
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the twilight of his second term in 2007 launched a tenure elongation bid that generated a lot of heat in the polity. If the botched campaign had succeeded, Obasanjo would have stood for election for the third term. The constitution stipulates two-term for elective executive offices.