Presidency Allays Fears Over Tenure Debate


The Presidency said on Thursday that the proposed bill for a single tenure for the president and state governors was not intended to distract the public or hinder good governance.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, made the statement at his weekly media briefing with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Abati, who was commenting on public reactions to the proposal, explained that the proposed bill was part of the 1999 Constitution amendment process.

“How does a proposal amount to a distraction? I cannot see that because the statement made by the president has not stopped government. It has not stopped government from going about its normal business.

“The local government councils are running their affairs, the state governors are running their affairs and the Federal Government has remained very active.

“To say that this is a distraction and that this is not what government should focus on, I think is entirely besides the point,” Abati said.

He said there was no better time to bring up the proposal than now so that the public and the legislature could have ample time to debate the issue and arrive at a decision that would benefit the country.

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“If this had come up much later in the life of the administration, the same people who are saying the timing is wrong will still say that there is a hidden agenda,” Abati said.

He restated that the proposed bill was not “a third term agenda” for Jonathan by subterfuge or an agenda to prolong the tenure of the president beyond 2015.

“I believe what our earlier statement means in very clear term is that the president will not be a beneficiary. In order words, the president will not come in 2015 to benefit if the amendment scales through.

“If he tries to do that, those who are saying it is an attempt at tenure elongation will have been vindicated.

“The president is fully aware of the concern of Nigerians and he is insisting. He is resolute in upholding that statement that he will not be a beneficiary,” he said.

Abati said the proposed bill was in the national interest and urged Nigerians to wait till the president submitted it to the National Assembly in August and the details made public.

He cautioned the opposition on its choice of words in criticising the proposal and called for some measure of objectivity in its criticism.

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