2015: Jonathan’s re-election ambition, reignites one-term controversy
The decision by President Goodluck Jonathan to seek re-election has reignited the controversy over whether or not he signed a pact with northern governors to run for only a single term of four years.
Last year, some governors and northern political figures had accused President Jonathan of not keeping to a promise that he made not to run.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, and other prominent Nigerians had then urged the President to keep to his words. Aliyu had also threatened to make the signed pact public.
On February 16, 2013, Aliyu had claimed that President Goodluck Jonathan entered into an agreement with governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party to serve for one term.
He said, “We must remind people of the promises they have made. When he (Jonathan) was going to declare, governors of the PDP were brought together, to ensure that we were all in the same frame of mind. Some of us, given the PDP zoning, were expecting that the northern states would produce the President for this number of years, but God has done His own.
“At that discussion, it was agreed that President Jonathan would serve one term and we all signed and when he went to Kampala, he said the same thing.”
The President had denied the allegation, saying he did not have such a deal with anyone.
On Thursday, there were reports that the President had told some governors, during a private meeting that he would contest in the 2015 presidential election.
But indications emerged on Friday that the President’s reported declaration might have stirred the hornet’s nest as some of those who accused him of breaking his word insisted that the agreement existed.
Speaking through their spokespersons, the ousted Adamawa State governor, Admiral Murtala Nyako and his Rivers State counterpart, Rotimi Amaechi, accused the President of reneging on an agreement he willingly entered into.
Nyako’s spokesperson, Ahmad Sajoh, who had the ex-governor’s authority to speak on the matter, said, “When he (Jonathan) agreed to run for a single term, it was a patriotic decision which was supposedly aimed at ensuring stability. Now that he has reneged, he is probably going to create confusion.
Asked what the next line of action would be, he said, “Let us see how the case at the Supreme Court will play out.
“When they wanted to get rid of my boss and Timipre Sylva, then governor of Bayelsa State, they went to court to secure a judgment that a chief executive cannot stay beyond eight years but that he can stay less than eight years.
“He (Jonathan) has taken oath as President twice and if he takes the next one, he is going to stay beyond eight years. Let us wait for the pronouncement of the Supreme Court.”
On his part, Amaechi said the President’s desire to seek another term in office was an attempt to deceive Nigerians.
Speaking through a close aide, the Chief of Staff, Government House Port Harcourt, Tony Okocha, the governor said, “The thing is that some of our leaders have refused to separate politics from ‘politricks’.
“A leader is not supposed to vacillate or change at will after he had already given his words on certain issues. Nigerians need somebody who will tell them the truth; someone who will take a decision and stand by it.
“But Nigerians are no fools. When an American President in the past lied to Americans, he apologised publicly to them. He (President Jonathan) is trying to deceive Nigerians.
“Nigerians should not worry; by the time we start campaigning, we will show him what he told Nigerians and what he is doing now.”
Second Republic lawmaker and Convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, also insisted that a one-term agreement was reached between Jonathan and northern leaders.
Mohammed described Jonathan’s decision to seek re-election as reneging on the alleged agreement.
He said, “Yes, it is (a renege). It proves beyond all reasonable doubts that he is not a gentleman in politics.
“Now that he has declared, I don’t see him winning the election. He can’t say anything he has done to justify being re-elected and he cannot deny the fact that we are arguing over the promises and agreements entered into by him, not only within the party (PDP) or the North but other parts of the country.”
One of those contesting Jonathan’s eligibility to re-contest in court, Dr. Umar Ardo, who is a member of the PDP from Adamawa State, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, admitted that there was a one-term deal between Jonathan and PDP governors.
Ardo said, “I don’t know whether there was any one-term agreement between this President and leaders in the North. But there was a single-term agreement between the President and the National Executive Committee of the PDP in December 2010. It is a public knowledge. The best people to confirm the agreement are the (PDP) governors and most of them have endorsed the President.
“If there is anybody that first broke the agreement, it is the President and the governors. The President only seconded it.”
He declined to speak on the suit challenging Jonathan’s eligibility, saying, “I am already in court challenging the eligibility of the President to contest the election. Unit the matter is determined by the court, I will not say anything for or against these arguments.”
Ex-president Obasanjo could not be reached for comments.
Similarly, efforts to speak with the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Prof. Rufai Alkali and the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh didn’t respond to their calls.
Some of the President’s loyalists were however quick to defend him.
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Goodswill Akpabio, denied knowledge of the single-term pact. Speaking through his Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Aniekan Umana, Akpabio, said he was not aware of any meeting in Abuja, where President Jonathan agreed to run for a single term.
Umana, said “I am not aware of anything in 2007 where President Goodluck Jonathan said he was going to run for a single term in office.
“As a Nigerian president, Jonathan has a constitutional right to contest a second term in office. Nobody has a right to stop him.
“Now that the PDP has adopted him as a sole candidate for the party, Nigerians should rally round him to ensure his victory in the forthcoming presidential election.”
Also, the Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita, said, “You are aware that President Goodluck Jonathan has challenged people to produce the evidence.
“If it is so that the President never entered into any agreement, how then do you expect my governor to get the information. Those are mere hearsay. They should produce the document.”
Similarly, Plateau State Governor, Mr. Jonah Jang, who spoke through the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Olivia Dazem, said, “You know that the governor of my state has not minced words about his loyalty to the president and this position is what he has maintained till today.
“So naturally, he is very excited that he has been vindicated and that the president had listened to the voice of the people, including those of the people of Plateau that he should contest the 2015 presidential election and the step he has taken is the right one. There is no mincing words about the fact that have not wavered about Jonathan candidacy for the 2015 election.”
Attempts to reach a former Kwara State governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, did yield results.
Meanwhile, on November 12, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of Federal High Court will be hearing a suit challenging the eligibility of President Jonathan and his deputy, Namadi Sambo, to seek re-election in the 2015 presidential election.
Though the two respondents in the suit, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), have yet to respond to the suit, the court has fixed November 12 for hearing.
Four Senior Advocates of Nigeria had instituted the suit on behalf of two politicians, Adejumo Ajagbe and Olatoye Wahab.
The four SANs leading the plaintiffs’ legal team are Messrs Abiodun Owonikoko, James Ocholi, Okon Efut and Mahmud Magaji.
The plaintiffs argued that by the virtue of the oaths taken by Jonathan and Sambo following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010 and their subsequent re-election in 2011, both of them were deemed to have completed the two terms allowed by law.
Magaji, told our correspondent on Saturday that two respondents had decided to join issue in the matter.
He said, “We have not received pressure from anybody. The defendants in the suit have now joined issue with us by filing a memorandum of conditional appearance.
“They have also said that they would file a preliminary objection. We will meet in court. Since we are in court we cannot not make much comment on the issue.”