Friday, 29 July 2011

President Jonathan to present tenure bill to National Assembly

President Goodluck Jonathan's office has confirmed the news making the rounds that he is planning to send a constitution amendment bill to the National Assembly, proposing longer single tenures for political office holders. The duration has not been specified, but it is widely thought the presidency will attempt to insert a six or seven year period into the legislation before presenting it.

Lawmakers would be eligible to contest elections in perpetuity, if they so wish, after the expiration of each term. In effect, the two term limit will be removed.

Over the past week, there had been speculation that such a bill was in the works, though it was perceived that the bill was being sponsored by other people with close ties to the Jonathan.

On Tuesday 26th July, Jonathan finally clarified the situation when he released a statement through his new Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, renowned journalist and former government critic, Reuben Abati. In the two-page statement, Jonathan said that his “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 institutionalisation of democracy at this stage of our development”.

The statement further sought to explain the rationale for such a bill, positing that “President 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 country's developmental aspirations”.

Jonathan, however, denied accusations that the bill was engineered to favour him and make him eligible to stay the full eight year course as president.

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© 2011 Menas Associates

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