Single tenure: Presidency lures first term govs

THE PUNCH Newspaper

The Presidency has started seeking the support of the first term governors ahead of the proposed single tenure bill it intends to send to the National Assembly, SATURDAY PUNCH investigations have shown.

SATURDAY PUNCH gathered on Friday that the Presidency had begun work on the bills on state creation and a new revenue allocation formula.

The investigation showed that the first term governors were being wooed with the promise that the proposed single tenure bill would contain clauses, which would allow them to contest the 2015 governorship poll.

It was learnt that many of the governors, except for the Action Congress of Nigeria members, had given an indication that they would support the bill because they would be able to spend 10 years in office.

The governors currently on their first term are Patrick Yakowa (Kaduna State); Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa); Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun); Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Kassim Shetima (Borno); and Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara).

“President Goodluck Jonathan has consistently said that he will not contest the 2015 poll,” a top Presidency official said in Abuja. “This is his personal decision. This doesn’t prevent the first term governors from contesting because the implementation of the proposed law will take effect in 2015. It cannot take a retroactive effect.”

He added that the President would not be dissuaded by the criticisms of the opposition, which he believed was born out of the suspicion that he might be nursing an ambition to extend his tenure in office.

It was learnt that virtually all the first term governors were embracing the planned bill because it would give those of them who were hardworking enough an opportunity to rule for 10 years in their states as against the present eight years.

The Presidency official dismissed claims that second term governors were most likely to oppose the single tenure bill, stressing that the President would not just fold his arm and watch a bill that would be beneficial to the society to be thrown out.

SATURDAY PUNCH investigations showed that many members of the National Assembly did not really have any serious issue with the bill, apart from the suspicion that the President might want to stay beyond 2015.

The source said the bill would not touch the tenure of lawmakers and would make it possible for them to return to the federal legislature as many times as they can win elections, as it is currently the case.

The official said it was the belief of the President that lawmakers should be encouraged to return to the National Assembly as many times as possible because of the imperative of experience and knowledge in the enactment of quality laws.

“There won’t be an amendment to the tenure of National Assembly members, but the arrangement is to encourage lawmakers to return as many times as they win elections,” the official said, not wanting to be quoted because the President had yet to officially send the bill to the NASS.

“What the President wants is just like what we have in the United States, where some people will go to the House and remain there for about 40 years.

“This is because the National Assembly is one place where this country really needs experience to make high quality laws and they come with experience.”

It was further learnt that apart from some resistance to the bill expected from opposition lawmakers, Jonathan was expecting a massive support from legislators elected under the umbrella of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party.

It was gathered that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, and his deputy, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, who emerged after violating the zoning arrangement of the PDP, were more disposed to working with the President, rather than antagonising him.

SATURDAY PUNCH gathered that the Presidency was optimistic as the issue of the single term bill would not be the only subject of national importance when topical issues on the amendment of the constitution were raised.

It was gathered that the President would send a bill on the amendment of the constitution on the critical issue of true federalism, revenue allocation and state creation.

The official said some of the issues involved were dear to various interest groups that they might not allow a bill on single tenure to rubbish their struggle to realise the gains of state creation and true federalism.

It was gathered that the Presidency was not bothered by the seeming opposition to the planned bill by the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Congress for Progress Change, as the two opposition parties were expected to go their different ways as was the case in the days before the election when different interests tore their planned alliance apart.

“Who is telling you that the President is discouraged by the criticism of his planned bill on single tenure by the opposition parties?” the official asked.

“Look, the bill on single tenure is not the only issue involved in the amendment of the constitution.

“The bill will come up for consideration among other weightier bills such as revenue allocation, state creation, among other important issues. That bill is not number one, number two or number three on the scale of importance.

“I expect that there will be a lot of horse-trading. The constitutional amendment is a whole gamut and not just one bill on the single tenure.

“As for the governors, the bill will only affect the second term governors, who will go in 2015. It will not affect first term governors.

“In fact, it is not logical for first term governors to oppose it. Those of them who work hard enough to return are going to benefit from the bill; you know they will spend 10 years instead of eight in the present two-term arrangement.

“And by the way, what makes you think that the second term governors are opposed to it?”

When contacted, the Ogun State governor, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Mrs. Funmi Wakama, said the proposed six-year single term was a constitutional matter that would be debated by legislatures across the country.

Wakama said the governor was at the moment pre-occupied with the task of delivering on his five-point agenda and electoral promises to the people of the state.

She said, “This agenda includes affordable and qualitative education; efficient health care delivery; increased agriculture production/industrialisation; affordable housing/urban renewal; and rural and infrastructural development/employment generation.”

Also, the governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, said he was so preoccupied with the efforts to continue to provide good governance and deliver democratic dividends in Kwara State that he would not comment on such an issue for now.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Ahmed’s Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji Abdulwahab Oba, said the governor would leave the future in God’s hands.

Oba said, “The governor is preoccupied with making a positive statement in the lives of Kwara residents who gave him that privilege to be their governor in the next four years.

“He is preoccupied with making a difference in the shortest possible time rather than talking about the future. He is living the future to God.”

Ajimobi, through his Special Assistant on Media, Festus Adedayo, said the issue of a single term was not the solution to the problem of governance in the country.

He stressed that the position of the constitution was clear on the issue of the tenure of public office holders.

He said, “Governor Ajimobi, having been elected on a renewable four-year term, is committed to this constitutional arrangement.

“As a loyal ACN party man, he is at one with his party’s disavowal with the single tenure arrangement. He believes that the political problem of Nigeria is not that of tenure, but how to get holders of office to be alive to their sworn oath of using their offices to better the lot of their people.”

He, therefore, advised the Federal Government to implement policies that would be people-centred rather than saddling itself with unnecessary commitments that had no direct bearing on national development.

Jonathan is expected to send the proposed single term bill to the NASS, which, if passed, would significantly alter the tenure of public office holders in the country.


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