26th July, 2011
In a move that will certainly stoke up fresh controversies that he is bent on elongating his tenure of office, President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday evening announced that he will 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.
There have been speculations in the media in recent times that the bill is specifically meant to help the President elongate his tenure of office as he will be the first beneficiary of the constitutional amendment. In a statement signed by Reuben Abati, his Special Adviser on media and publicity, the President said in the envisaged Bill, the tenure of members of the National and State Assemblies will also be a little more than four years. The Presidency was not specific on how many years the single tenure of Governors and the President will be in the statement.
The presidency indicated that the tenure of the lawmakers will eventually be determined by their constituencies.In anticipation of the storm the Bill is likely to set off, the President in the statement tried to justify the need for constitutional amendment of tenure of public officers on the need to help public officers focus on development and reduce distractions of too frequent elections.â€œPresident Jonathanâ€™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 institutionalization of democracy at this stage of our development. A longer term for lawmakers would also help to stabilise the polityâ€, said Abati in the statement.
The President also said extension of the tenure of elected officials will help to reduce the cost and acrimony associated with contesting for public offices. â€œPresident 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 countryâ€™s developmental aspirations. â€œIn addition, the cost 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 focusâ€, added Abati.
The Presidency also affirmed that the Bill will not lead to elongation of the tenure of President Jonathan as it will not have a retroactive effect contrary to recent speculations in the media. â€œThe details of the Bill will be clear in terms of its provisions when it is forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration.
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.â€œThe 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 administrationâ€™s transformation agenda aimed at sanitizing the nationâ€™s politics. The President believes that this single move, when actualized, will change the face of our politics and accelerate the overall development of our nation. If the proposed amendment is accepted by the National Assembly, the President assures that he will not in any way be a beneficiaryâ€, the presidential spokesperson concluded in the statement
By Oluokun Ayorinde/Abuja