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Nigeria: Second term presidency not on the cards now

By THISDAY


Abuja — The Presidency yesterday said the issue of a second term in office was not on the mind of President Umaru Shehu Yar'Adua for now and that he was not going to be pressurized and cajoled into it.

Reacting to the call, or rather, prayer, last week by the former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, Anthony Anenih for a second term for the President, the Special Adviser to the President on Communications, Olusegun Adeniyi told THISDAY in Abuja that the President's focus now "is on his remaining two years and two months tenure."

Anenih while praying for the health of the President at the 10th anniversary lecture held to commemorate his older brother, the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua in Abuja last week, had stated "God should please grant President Yar'Adua good health to complete his six remaining years."

But Adeniyi in an exclusive interview said that the decision to go for a second term or not, rests only with the President, "but for now, he is pre-occupied with the challenges of his remaining term."

The presidential spokesman said: "As to the President seeking a second term, nobody can decide such for him. If and when he decides to seek a second term, that would be his decision and he would come out clearly to inform the people as to why.

"I think by now, Nigerians are tired of this idea of anybody being cajoled or begged to seek a second, third or fourth term, or the idea of a proxy declaration.

"As far as the President is concerned, he has two solid years and two months to deliver on his promises to Nigerians and that is what is uppermost in his mind right now."

Also speaking on the criticism trailing the government's White Paper on the Justice Uwais panel's report on electoral reforms, Adeniyi said the critics were playing politics with the decision made by the Federal Executive Council.

He continued: "What I see basically is criticism from a few opposition politicians which I find rather interesting.

"The criticism is coming from the same people who had unprintable words for Justice (Mohammed) Uwais when he was appointed the electoral reform chairman and concluded at the time that nothing good would come out of the committee.

"So, for them to be advocates of the committee now, I think they are just playing politics with the issue."

The presidential spokesman also gave some insight into why the government rejected the recommendations in the report for the appointment of the INEC chairman saying that it was in line with the doctrine of separation of powers.

Adeniyi denied any hidden agenda on the part of the President. He stressed: "the recommendation was rejected simply because asking the President of Nigeria (we are not talking about individuals here) not to appoint the INEC chairman but rather should cede the power to the National Judicial Council (NJC) would be a misnomer.

"This is a presidential system of government that places much premium on the doctrine of separation of powers. The constitution empowers the President to make certain appointments, including that of the head of NJC, that is the Chief Justice of the Federation and indeed other members of the Supreme Court."

He said that even though he was aware of what gave rise to the recommendation, he pointed out that "if the President can appoint the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Justices of Supreme Court, why should he not appoint the INEC chairman?

The presidential spokesman also spoke on the implementation of the electoral reforms, the fate of the current INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, as well other issues.