The tenure elongation bill

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Last week, President Goodluck Jonathan formally let the cat out of the bag as he publicly announced what was initially considered to be mere speculation; a tenure elongation bill for consideration by the National Assembly.

The proposed bill, according to President Jonathan, is to help reduce acrimony as well as eliminate the frictions associated with the bid by incumbent elected public officers, specifically the President and Governors, in their pursuit of a second term, often to the detriment of good governance.

No matter how germane the arguments in support of the proposal may sound, the bill for all intents and purposes, and irrespective of the amount of the accompanying spin, appears to be self serving, especially when considered against the backdrop of the call for good governance in the shape of the provision of needed infrastructure and the creation of an enabling environment for economic activities to thrive and grow the economy.

President Jonathan ought to have been more preoccupied with ensuring that his government hits the ground running, rather than engage in diversionary moves that could cause the deliberate confusion that the proposed Bill has already generated in the country.

The timing also calls to question the intended benefit of the presidential bill as the argument that Jonathan has barred himself from benefitting from the single, elongated tenure, is not convincing either, since there is no constitutional provision that bars him from seeking another term of office in 2015.

Besides, on the basis of his antecedents, it is important to ask if President Jonathan can be trusted to abide by the rules, given that he deliberately refused to respect the provisions of his party’s constitution in respect of its zoning policy, in the lead to the April elections, in addition to his refusal to sign an agreement to confirm his earlier assurance, that he will not run for a second term in 2015. The issue is more worrisome given that President Jonathan’s eligibility for 2015 has not been clearly defined.

There is no need for the unnecessary heating of the polity with an issue that is purely diversionary and appears to be programmed to serve a hidden personal agenda while serious matters of security, decayed infrastructure, unemployment, among other national questions, are left unattended to.

 Of equal concern is the attempt to woo the people into accepting the proposed amendment through a befuddling but unconvincing argument that President Jonathan has deliberately excluded himself from benefitting from the proposed law, while they have not explained how they plan to stop first term governors from seeking re-election under the proposed amendment.

.We share the view of those who argue that the pressing problems of Nigeria today, should be what the president should focus on and provide solutions for. Besides, the opposition so far generated by the plan should give the president and his handlers the pause. A tenure elongation agenda, by whatever name it is called, is not what we need at this moment and we urge that the plan be quietly dropped by President Jonathan. We all remember how Obasanjo’s Third Term Agenda polarized the country; President Goodluck Jonathan should not walk the same route. Unfortunately, that is where his tenure emendation plan will head.

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