President Goodluck Jonathan is yet to complete one year in office of the four-year mandate given to him in 2011. However, tension is already amounting over whether he is eligible to contest in 2015 or whether power would return to the geo-political North. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has raised the political temperature with his recent declaration that he would vie for the presidency in 2015. CHUKS OHUEGBE examines these issues.
President Jonathan’s Warning
The dust of the 2011 general elections hardly settled when subtle campaigns for 2015 commenced. Two issues dominated and are still dominating discussions – whether incumbent President Jonathan is eligible to vie for the 2015 poll or is if the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) would zone its presidential ticket to the geo-political North.
While this is going on in the ruling party, the opposition parties are gearing up for 2015 in the bid to wrestle power from PDP.
The opposition parties are already hinting that if the ruling party resorts to rigging in the polls, it would be inviting a revolution from the electorate.
Worried that the campaigns within his party if unchecked have the potentials of undermining his administration’s achieving of set goals, President Jonathan had read a riot act to the party faithful during a recent National Working Committee (NWC). He had threatened that he would sack any of his ministers who engages in political campaigns.
The threat by extension went for all other party leaders who had started clandestine campaigns for the president. The President had reminded the party faithful that they were yet to deliver on the mandate given to them by the electorate.
However, if the president’s threat was to cow the party chieftains, it rather was of no effect. The campaigns rather, took a different dimension. Findings in the party point to the fact that if the status quo remains, other aspirants for the 2015 presidential race could as well begin to scout for other platforms other than PDP. Observers are watching the President to match his word on punishing party faithful that would contravene his instruction with action.
The Promise Of One Term
The emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as the president was circumstantial. The invocation of the doctrine of necessity by the National Assembly eased his transformation from Vice-President to acting president, while his predecessor in office was terminally ill.
However, the events that led to the run up to the 2011 presidential election were significant. President Jonathan who had won his party’s presidential ticket had told his international audience in far away Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital that if elected that he would rule for only one term of four years.
The statement was hailed as coming from a statesman. The implication was that the president would not put himself up for any elective position, the presidency inclusive, in the 2015 general elections.
Though President Jonathan has not formally or otherwise said that he would be vying for a second term in office in 2015, depositions from his office signed by his personal aides point to the contrary.
However, following a legal suit instituted by one Cyriacus Njoku, a PDP chieftain who had approached the court, praying it to determine whether President Jonathan is entitled to two terms in office having already been sworn-in twice as provided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic, the deposition by the office of the president raised a huge doubt.
Dr. Reuben Abati, the spokesman of the president in his statement of claim that is before a court of competent jurisdiction deposed as follows; “The first defendant (Jonathan) is currently doing his first term f four years in office as the president of Nigeria as provided by the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The 1st defendant’s status and position is formidably backed by the 1999 Constitution. The Constitution of Nigeria only makes provision for a president to contest for not more than two terms of four years each. The Constitution recognizes the executive president’s tenure of office to be four years.
“The 1st defendant has not indicated or announced anywhere whether in words or in writing that he will contest for the presidential election that will be conducted in 2015”.
The message the president’s spin doctors are sending out is that this is the first time, legally and constitutionally speaking that President Jonathan was given the mandate to rule.
Atiku Raises The Bar
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar appease not favourably disposed to what is playing out at the PDP. Atiku is miffed by the fact that he ridden rough shod by the spin doctors of the president.
According to him this development took a turn for the worse after the emergence of the new national chairman of the party, whom the spin doctors want both party faithful and none members of the party to believe that his emergence had foreclosed Atiku’s aspiration to vie for the presidency in 2015.
Even though the whistle is yet to be blown for the contest at any level, the former Vee-Pee has declared that he would contest the presidency in 2015. He warned those who are trying to shut him out of the race to ‘stop playing God as no one knows what will happen in 2015’.
Announcing his intention, his media office had said; “In this post-zoning era, President Jonathan is free to contest, his younger brothers or any one from Otuoke village are free to contest, while Atiku Abubakar is also very eminently qualified to aspire to become the president of Nigeria in 2015.
President Jonathan can aspire to contest for the presidency as many times as he wants with Bamanga Tukur as the PDP chairman. But, these must not stop Atiku from raising his hands for presidency.
“Those who are engaging in political blackmail should desist and look up to God who is the author and finisher of the many desires of a man’s heart. He is also the Supreme Being, the only one who can determine the future with certainty, including what happens in 2015.
It is also instructive, as Chinua Achebe advised, that those whose palm kernel has been cracked by benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.
“some of these political fortune-tellers have, in a desperate attempt to keep their man, meaning, President Jonathan in power beyond 2015, foreclosed Atiku’s bid for the presidency. They think Atiku’s bid can no longer see the light of the day. They are wrong, dead wrong!”.
Where does this leave the PDP and by extension the polity? It is worse for the party as it is yet to come over the scares the last party primaries left. However, Mr. Max Gbanite, a seasoned political analyst posits thus: ‘Both President Jonathan and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar reserve the right to vie for the presidency in 2015.
While the president reserves the right, he said that he will do only one term in office. At what point did he resolve to do a second term? Does he not want people to take him seriously? At what point did he change his mind? What were his promises under the doctrine of necessity and his 2011 electoral promises and what has been accomplished? Is he running for the sake that this is our turn syndrome?
“As for Atiku, I want to ask under which platform is he planning to run? Is he ready to migrate to another political party? Is he going to contest the presidential primary with President Jonathan? What type of president does he want Nigerians to see him as?
These men should stop this in order not to over-heat the polity. They should shut their mouths and ask what are the things the masses of this country lack’.