The Pan-northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to abide by the “agreement” to vacate office after his current tenure.
The ACF said the revelation by Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu that Jonathan had an agreement with the Peoples Democratic Party’s governors not to contest in 2015 was not new.
The body for northerners said the President had at different fora announced that a single term of four years was enough for him to turn things around in the country.
The ACF said Jonathan’s eligibility to participate in the 2015 election was not a constitutional matter “but of honour, trust and confidence.”
National Publicity Secretary of the forum, Mr. Anthony Sani, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna, “What the Niger State governor said is not new. This is because Nigerians read in the newspapers at that time that President Jonathan had agreed with the PDP governors to do only one term; and that was why the governors supported him. Such was commonplace knowledge in the media.
“We also read and heard President Jonathan said in Uganda that four years was enough for him to make Nigerians experience a sea of change; and that any president who could not do so in one tenure of four years would not be able to achieve anything , even if given many terms.
“With such commonplace knowledge, most Nigerians would not expect the President to swallow his words of honour and trust in order to contest in 2015 considering that he is an embodiment of national ideals and moral values. It is not a matter of constitutional right but of honour, trust and confidence.”
Sani said Jonathan’s eligibility was also a subject of legal tussle given that some PDP members were challenging his eligibility to contest in 2015 in court, having already taken the oath of office twice.
He said, “According to the members, the said constitution allows for maximum period of eight years and that if the President contest in 2015 and wins he will be in office for more than the maximum of eight years. They cite the cases of the six governors who had reruns and the Supreme Court judgment which made the periods before reruns by the six governors to count. So, they submit that the remaining period of President Ya’Adua which President Jonathan completed should also count.
“In that case, he is not eligible to contest in 2015. The case has not been decided yet. I believe such are some of the dilemmas the President has found himself; the burden of honour, trust and confidence as well as the court case.”
The ACF position came even as indications emerged in Abuja on Monday that Jonathan, and the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, had concluded plans to take control of the party’s Board of Trustees.
There have been muscle-flexing within the PDP over the control of the party’s BoT with factions of party chieftains queuing up behind either the President or former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
While Jonathan is said to be rooting for the Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Tony Anenih, to assume chairmanship of the BoT, Obasanjo is said to favour ex-Chairman of the PDP, Ahmadu Ali, to occupy the office from which he (Obasanjo) resigned late last year.
Recent attempts to elect new chairman for the BoT ended in a stalemate and indefinite suspension of the task though there were indications that Obasanjo’s men would have carried the day if the election had held then.
Barring any last minute changes, The Punch learnt on Monday, the Professor Jerry Gana-led six-member committee on the restructuring of the membership of the party’s BoT, is scheduled to submit its report at a meeting next Monday, February 25.
Only invited persons will be allowed to attend the meeting, our correspondents learnt.
It was learnt that as part of the moves to ensure their control of the party, both Jonathan and Tukur were said to have resolved not to invite some loyalists of Obasanjo to the meeting.
The PDP had on Friday sacked its National Vice-Chairman (South-West), Mr. Segun Oni, and the National Auditor, Chief Bode Mustapha, who were said to be loyalists of the former President.
Investigations showed that having gained prominence in the National Working Committee with the sacking of Obasanjo loyalists, Tukur and the President had begun moves to take control of the BoT.
The moves are expected to begin with the report of the Gana committee.
The presentation of the report is expected to herald the election of a new chairman for the BoT.
An earlier attempt in January by the Jerry Gana-led committee to streamline the number of persons on the BoT and the failure of the factions within the party to make concessions led to the stalemate over the election of a new Chairman.
The committee’s report is expected to be submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan, as the National Leader of the party, and the National Chairman of the Party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
However, a member of the PDP BoT, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said allegations that the Gana-led committee had a hidden agenda were untrue.
In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, on Monday, Babatope refuted the insinuation that the Gana committee was out to do the bidding of the PDP faction loyal to Jonathan.
He said, “That insinuation is not correct. It is totally false. I don’t want to comment on the issues because I am involved, having bid to be secretary of the party.”