President Jonathan's Single-Tenure Proposal Fraudulent, Self-Serving - ACN

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The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described as patently fraudulent, deceptively self-serving and a terrible misadventure the plan by President Goodluck Jonathan to send a Constitutional amendment bill to the National Assembly to pave the way for a single tenure for the President and the Governors of the 36 states. The party's criticism of the proposal has also been supported by Nigerians who think Nigeria is not ripe enough for the practice.  

In a statement issued in Ibadan by ACN's National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, the party said the plan also confirms fears being expressed in certain circles that this President enjoys power for the sake of it, instead of using it to the benefit of Nigerians.  

It said the single tenure project is fraudulent because the President never for once promised Nigerians, during his electioneering campaign, that this will be his priority project once elected into office, adding that the issue is also not known to be in the manifesto of his party, the PDP.  

ACN said the project is also self-serving because, despite the deceptive proviso that President Jonathan will not benefit from it, there is nothing in the constitution that bars him from seeking another term of office in 2015 and, in any case, he has not told anyone that he will not run again after his current tenure.  

"This is nothing but tenure elongation by subterfuge, and it is worse than the third term misadventure of his Godfather. All it takes for the proviso (inserted to hoodwink gullible people) to be knocked off is for anyone to seek a declarative court ruling that he (President Jonathan) is indeed qualified to seek another term. After all, he did not go that far to disown his party's zoning principle, which he signed on to," the party said.  

It also expressed concern that the ill-conceived project could prove to be a divisive issue, further threatening the country's fragile unity, which took some beating by the President's volte-face on the zoning issue.  

ACN said further: "Much as most Nigerians are shocked by President Jonathan's plan, we are sure it did not come to them as a total surprise, because it is in line with his style since assuming office. After the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua and his (President Jonathan's) ascension to office, he cannot be remembered for anything beyond stoking the fire of zoning or no zoning, which burned brightly until he was elected President.  

"Now, three months after he promised Nigerians heaven and earth in his inauguration speech but delivered nothing, while Nigerians are daily being subjected to hellish living, all he has come up with is a bill to amend the Constitution so the President and state governors can serve only one term. How is this issue more important than taking measures to grow our moribund economy; or to ensure that millions of our jobless youths are gainfully employed?  

"How does this check the widespread insecurity of lives and property in the land, especially in areas under the stranglehold of Boko Haram? How are the so-called merits of the plan, which its promoters said include checking the acrimony that accompanies re-election campaign, more important than making kerosene, diesel and Jet-A1 abundantly available to slash the rising costs? How does this project turn around the appalling state of our infrastructure? And how does it check the spiralling exchange rate of the Naira to the major currencies, with its bandwagon effects?  

"By seeking to use this meaningless bill to divert the attention of Nigerians from the issues listed above, while cunningly buying his government enough time to consolidate, President Jonathan has done an incalculable damage to his integrity and disappointed the millions who voted him into office. He should therefore jettison this ill-advised pursuit of tenure elongation through the back door, apologise to Nigerians and face squarely the daunting task of serious governance. If he fails to do so, which is very likely, the National Assembly should not waste time in throwing it away," ACN said.  

The party said while no one should fall for the deceptive proviso that the single tenure project will not benefit the President, it is indeed irrelevant whether or not it benefits him, since the issue pales into insignificance when placed side by side with matters that should be the priority of any serious administration that is eager to deliver the dividends of democracy to the citizenry.  

"We therefore urge all Nigerians to reject this evil project instead of playing the game of President Jonathan and his cohorts, who simply want to use the ensuing debate to divert attention from the worsening standard of living of Nigerians and the bad governance to which they have been subjected by to most elected officials in the over 12 years of democratic rule,"it said.  

Nigerians who have also opposed the proposal as reported by P.M. NEWS, an evening newspaper based in Lagos include prominent politicians like Tunji Braithwaite and Balarabe Musa.  

Tunji Braithwaite, described it as shocking, illegal and against the will of the people. According to him, the proposal was not different from the third term agenda of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and should therefore be rejected. 'Nigerians should resist this attempt to subvert their sovereignty,' he advised.  

Governor of old Kano State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, who said it was the same as 'game for tenure elongation played by Ibrahim Babangida, Sanni Abacha and Obasanjo.' He said it was clear that the President wants to impose himself despite stressing that the tenure elongation would not begin with him.  

'He already has a four year term and if it is allowed, he would start manipulating in 2015 for another six year term. This is his trick and we all need to reject it because if we do not, there would be problems in 2015," he said.  

Former National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, Ralph Nwosu, said the President's move was not the best for the country. He said that even in America, elected officials still had chances for re-election.  

He said the argument by the President that it was a way to reduce corruption valid saying that if the anti-corruption agencies in the country are allowed to work effectively, it would be reduced.  

Mr Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group and media aide to the candidate of the Congress of Political Change, Muhammadu Buhari, said the move was for the president to elongate his tenure even though he said he would not benefit from the proposed six years single term.  

Odumakin said before Jonathan took over power, he had once told him and others at a meeting that he would like seven years of single tenure, adding that Nigerians should resist it the way it resisted former President Olusegun Obasanjo's botched third term bid.  

According to him, Nigerians should not be deceived, saying that what Nigerians expected the president to do now was to sponsor bills to tackle insecurity, minimum wage and others.