It was NATIONAL MIRROR newspaper of Tuesday, July 12, 2011, which first reported that the presidency had “concluded plans to send a bill to the National Assembly for a single term of seven years for governors and presidents. It had “reasoned that political violence was always caused by the resolve of incumbent governors and presidents to run for a second tenure of office”. By Monday, July 18th, a slight amendment to the NATIONAL MIRROR story emerged in DAILY SUN and NIGERIAN TRIBUNE; the tenure shortened by a year, to six, but the nut and bolt remained constant: Goodluck Jonathan is working on a tenure elongation agenda!
Soon after he was “freed and faired” into power in April, Jonathan was hosted to a dinner by the mandarins of the private sector, during which he lamented that a four-year tenure was too short to make a meaningful impact in governance. Not long after, Chief Emeka Anyaoku was reported to have canvassed for a tenure elongation for Goodluck Jonathan. If people thought what we confronted were examples of a Freudian slip, from those two sources, then the “concluded plans” to send a tenure elongation bill to the National Assembly, shows that there is an elaborate agenda in the works, to manipulate Nigeria’s democratic space for the umpteenth time, and the cast of characters has a permanence which should worry all patriots.
The emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as PDP candidate and eventual winner of the April polls bitterly divided the country, in a manner reminiscent of the June 12, 1993 debacle. In an effort to soothe frayed nerves, Jonathan promised to do a single term ending by 2015. By seeking a constitutional amendment, Jonathan is attempting to be clever by a half: if his amendment is for a 7-year term, he would have been in power effectively for eight years anyway; and even a single 6-year term would make meaningless his promise to leave in 2015; perhaps lurking behind the original promise had been the tenure emendation plot in the first place.
In the past few weeks, there have been all manners of conspiracy theories, which are beginning to make sense now. The main thread in those ‘theories’ was that the Jonathan presidency had been desperate to ensure that its minion was Speaker of the House of Representatives, because of the tenure elongation agenda. David Mark as the Senate President can always be trusted, given his antecedents as a gung-ho activist for Obasanjo’s Third Term agenda a few years ago, to support Jonathan’s tenure elongation project. What needed to be in place, was a Speaker that would play ball. Dimeji Bankole was not for the plan, by supporting Tambuwal’s emergence as Speaker. To punish his temerity, the old Obasanjo method of politics by hostage-taking was then deployed: check the accounts of the National Assembly and bring the young man to court!
An elaborate quid pro quo is also embedded in the tenure elongation project; there is the plan to create states which might favour David Mark who wants a state for the Idoma and his Deputy, Ekweremadu, who would like to be seen as having won an extra state for the Igbo people. So from all political angles, we face a determined onslaught by individuals with every reason to push their personal agendas down our throats: Jonathan wants to be president for the next six years (God forbid such an eventuality!), while the two leading Senators need states! So it is head they win; tail, Nigeria loses! A new front of struggle has now opened for the Nigerian people. We must mobilize to ensure that the proposed emendation of the constitution is dead on arrival, because it is not in the interest of the Nigerian people. Goodluck Jonathan was elected for a four-year term and he should not be allowed to get extra years through the back door of a contrived constitutional amendment. If it becomes an imperative, then he should not benefit from it; simple! Amending our constitution to serve personal whims should never be allowed to fly.