More facts emerged yesterday that the plot that led to the proposed, controversial, single term for the offices of the president and governors did not just start last week, when President Goodluck Jonathan let the cat out of the bag.
LEADERSHIP gathered last night that some powerful political forces, which cut across political parties, had met some time ago, scripted the agenda and made the recommendation.
Though the president had made reference to the existence of a report to that effect when he addressed the 56th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday in Abuja, he however did not give full details.
However, a report made available to LEADERSHIP last night revealed the identities of the authors of the script. They include President Jonathan, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, former national chairman of ANPP, Senator Mohammed Aruwa, Chief Kunle Ogunade, Chief Ugo Sam Okpara, Khaleel Bolaji, Senator A.A. Ibrahim, and Mr. J. Okongor, all ANNP chieftains.
Others include Chief Chekwas Okorie, Abdullahi Mohammed, Barrister Abubakar Galadima, Barrister Bello Umar, Prince ANC Akanegbu, Chief Benji I. Duru and Benson Agada (members of APGA), while former national chairman of the PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, who initially led the PDP delegation, was later replaced by Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, when he assumed office.
Other PDP members who also participated in the scripting of the agenda included, Dr. Danladi Sankara and Alhaji Abubakar Baraje. Others are, Senator Paul Wampana, Senator Yinka Omilani, Dr. Bello Mohammed,Abubakar Magaji, Nze Fidelis Ochichukwu, and Chief G.U. Ake.
The People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) was also not left out of the exercise. The party team was led by its former national chairman Clement Ebri, and other members included Chief Emma Omokwe,Hajiya Mariam Ibrahim, Baba Adi, Chief Samson Akiga, Chief Mrs, Remi Adiuku- Bakare and AVM Anthony Okpere(rtd).
An insider told LEADERSHIP that the political forces, which worked under the platform of the Inter-Party Consultative Committee on Electoral Reform, created by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua was headed by the then vice president Jonathan. In all, the committee had 29 members drawn from the four parties, and cut across the six geo-political zones.
From the report, 70 percent of the recommendations of the committee were adopted by the much publicised Uwais Report on electoral reforms.
According to the insider, “The recommendation on single tenure was shelved because the health of the late President Yar’Adua did not allow him to undertake the needed consultations ahead of the completion of work by the Uwais Panel.”
“So, I can tell you authoritatively that the decision to tinker with tenure of office of governors and the President, which will commence in 2015, has a long history.
“President Jonathan has decided to leave a strong political legacy for Nigeria and one of the key issues already identified as causing tension in the polity is the incumbency factor, which can be resolved through a single tenure for the president and governors.”
Late Yar’Adua had also set up committees of Traditional Rulers, Governors’ Committee, Law Enforcement Committee and Inter-Party Committee all with a view to analyzing the trends in the nation’s electoral system. But only the Inter-Party Consultative Committee headed by Jonathan saw the light of the day and produced reports which laid the foundation for the Uwais Panel on Electoral Reforms.
A preamble to the report shows that the late President had established the Inter-Party Committee as fallout of the Interactive Session on Electoral Processes which he convened with Governors, National Assembly, the political parties and the security agencies on January 16, 2008.
According to the report, “The five leading political parties-Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP), Progressive Peoples Alliance(PPA), All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) and the Action Congress(AC) were invited to nominate 7 members each. In his invitation to the parties, His Excellency, the Vice President advised that the seven nominees of each of the leading parties should include the national chairman and one member from each of the 6 geo-political zones.”
The committee had identified 24 key factors working against credible elections in the country: incumbency factor, independence of the electoral body, imposition of candidates, god-fatherism, thuggery, role of the security agencies as well as the role of state electoral bodies among others.
The committee had recommended the adoption of a seven- year single tenure for the president, six- year single tenure for governors and three year tenure for local government chairmen.
Other key recommendations made by the Jonathan-led committee include the need to ensure the financial autonomy of the electoral body, allowing ceilings for donations to support elections, adoption of Open Ballot System for all elections, ensuring a six months’ window between elections and assumption of office in order to ensure that litigations are resolved, de-registration of political parties that fail to get up to 2.5 percent of seats in the National Assembly, establishment of Electoral Offences Commission, rotation of offices at state and federal levels to be a constitutional matter and adoption of proportional representation.