Sunday, June 9, 2013

Single tenure: Presidency dares Senate

President Goodluck Jonathan-360x225

The Presidency on Friday said the clause in the proposed constitution amendment, which seeks to exclude President Goodluck Jonathan and some governors from participating in the 2015 elections, would fail.
Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, said this in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja.
Gulak said it would be unfair for the National Assembly to make an amendment that would short-change those elected under a constitution that allows them to contest two terms of four years each.
He said, “It is not a fair amendment to target a particular group of people. That proposal will not scale through because Nigerians are wiser.
“You can’t short-change some people in the name of amending the constitution. I am sure there will be some considerations and the proposal will fail.
“The President and some governors were elected under a constitution that allows them to contest two terms of four years each. You can’t change the rule midway.”
Similarly, the Arewa Consultative Forum opposed the six year-single tenure for the president and governors as proposed by the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution.
The apex northern socio-political body cautioned members of the National Assembly against adopting it.
It argued that adopting such a provision would be counterproductive because it was capable of impeding good governance in the country.
National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani, told SUNDAY PUNCH, in Kaduna, that apart from good governance, the proposal lacked the basic elements of motivation and incentives needed in the management of human affairs.
He said, “ACF’s position on single tenure for president and governors is that it is counter productive, because it has no incentives to motivate for excellence.
“This is because the good, the not-so-good and the feckless are grouped together without any exception.
“All management of human affairs which has no way of rewarding excellent performance cannot reasonably be expected to be effective.
“In multiple tenure, reelection is often a form of reward for good performance. And if the president and governors know that they are all entitled to only six years whether they perform or not, they will concentrate on the pillage of public treasury, which is counterproductive.”
Opposition political parties shared similar views.
In separate interviews, the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Congress for Progressive Change, said two terms of four years each as was currently being practised, was better.
National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Lai Mohammed, said, “The position of our party has been consistent, two terms of four years each.
“There is nothing wrong with the system. What does the preclusion of Jonathan and governors from participating from the 2015 elections got to do with anything?
“Six years is a long time in politics. The beauty of democracy is not only in the ability of the people to participate in voting in a people to govern them but also in their power to vote out non-performing governments.
“What prevents somebody who comes in on the six-year single term bait from seeking to make it three terms of six years each? What stops another National Assembly coming in to change the constitution again?
“Without prejudice to what they are proposing, we are of the view that the clause dealing with the issue of tenure is fine as it is.”
Speaking in a similar vein, his counterpart in the CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fahakin, said, “You know the President who started this tenure thing probably thought he would benefit from it. He has been told bluntly by the Senate, that this is not going to be.
“For us, I wouldn’t really know the problem this amendment to the constitution hopes to solve in our political system.
“What we have always known is that the people should always be the fulcrum of any political decision we want to take.
“The current two terms of four years each if properly used like it is done in advanced democracies like the United States, is good enough for our own environment; in that it keeps the people as the focus of the democratic value of our political system.”
Also speaking on the issue, the Convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said there was “absolutely nothing wrong with the constitutional provision of two terms of four years each as is currently the case.”
He accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party of nursing a sinister agenda by trying to push through a single six-year term.
He said, “If the PDP has its way, it will not allow elections for any serious position.  Democrats, true democrats  should cherish and welcome elections because PDP is not democratic; you see the party finding a way to trigger a national crisis to avoid elections.”
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council has said President Jonathan must contest the 2015 election irrespective of the recommendations of the committee.
The IYC insisted that the President’s aspiration for a second term in office must not be scuttled by the Senate.
“We are saying that Jonathan must run in 2015 because he is a saleable candidate for us. The National Assembly should not do anything that will affect the second term ambition of President Jonathan and others who wish to contest in 2015.
“Though we cannot compel Nigerians to vote for him (Jonathan), we are appealing to Nigerians to vote for him in the next dispensation.  He must contest no matter the recommendations from that committee.”
In a related development, Second Republic presidential candidate,  Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, has called on the National Assembly to stop the ongoing constitution amendment. He said it would not address the current “imbalance, inequality, injustice and many other problems in the country.”
In a statement in Lagos on Saturday, the lawyer said the Federal Government should rather call a sovereign national conference to fashion out a new constitution that would meet the yearnings of the people.
The Senate Committee on Review of the Constitution, had recommended a vnon-renewable single six-year tenure for the office of President, Vice-President, governors and their deputies.
The committee’s  recommendation also disqualifies President Jonathan and incumbent governors from benefiting from the new arrangement if the recommendation becomes law.
While shedding light on the recommendation, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, had on Thursday in Abuja said if the recommendation on single tenure succeeded, the President and some governors would sacrifice their ambitions in 2015.
“We don’t want Nigerians to say that we have colluded with the executive to give tenure elongation to the President and certain governors.  That means somebody instead of staying for eight years; he will now be staying for 10 years.
“I think it will be easier for someone to deal with the issue of making a sacrifice than for someone to have the period for 10 years; I am not sure what our colleagues will say. If they say that those who are there now should benefit, that is fine. Those who are currently serving should be able to excuse themselves and say we make this sacrifice on behalf of the system,” he said.

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