25th July, 2011
The Presidency has described as â€œspeculative and a non issueâ€, reports and comments in the media that President Goodluck Jonathan is plotting for elongation of his tenure of office because there is no specific action in that regard at the moment.
Reports in some newspapers had indicated that the President is about to send a bill to the National Assembly in which he will ask the lawmakers to amend the constitution to limit the term of elected officials to six years single tenure of office instead of the current provision of two terms of four years each.
The reports had indicated that the President will, through the amendment, elongate his tenure in office by seeking to become the first beneficiary of the six-year single tenure.
Jonathan first became Nigeriaâ€™s President in May, 2010 when he assumed office after the death of his boss, President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua. He was elected as substantive president in the 2011 general elections and was sworn-in for his first term of office on 29, May, 2011. He is entitled to seek election for tenure in 2015.
The President had, as part of the moves to get the support of the stakeholders, especially from the Northern part of the country in his battle for the presidential ticket of his party, agreed to spend only one term of four years in office.
But there were reports even before the elections that, contrary to his promise, the President was planning to elongate his tenure of office with the new bill that will also prescribe a six-year single tenure for state governors.
Reuben Abati, spokesperson to President Jonathan however told journalists that he cannot react to the speculations for now because there is as yet no such bill before the National Assembly.
â€œTo the best of my knowledge, there isnâ€™t such a bill before the National Assembly and because it is speculative, it is not something one can respond to,â€ the Special Adviser to the President on media and publicity told journalists in his maiden briefing of State House correspondents last Friday.
Abati added that reports on the issue have so far been attributed to unnamed sources in the presidency.
â€œOne of the things I have observed in many of our reports about the Presidency is this famous â€˜presidency sourcesâ€™ forever nameless, unknown but very authoritative on the affairs of the State House. I think we donâ€™t need to respond to such things because they are speculative,â€ he added.
Abati said the matter of tenure elongation can only become a thing of concern if the President takes a particular action along that line.
â€œBut if there is a specific action and then you say the President has sent a particular bill on this subject to the National Assembly, then it becomes an issue. But let us deal with facts as they are and not speculate,â€ he said.
On the demand by the Governors for adjustment in the revenue allocation formula, Abati said: â€œsince we are practicing democracy, the President cannot dictate to the state chief executives.â€
He said any decision that will be arrived at on the issue at the end of the day will be guided by rule of law.