President Goodluck Jonathan
From Ahamefula Ogbu in Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday described as an irritating distraction the swirling speculations over his plan to contest the presidential election in 2015, stating that the notion was furthermost thing on his mind at the moment when he is grappling with the challenges of his first term in office.
Jonathan, in a statement by presidential spokesman, Dr. Rueben Abati, expressed concern over the growing furore in political circles and the media over his political future.
He was pained that despite his previous clarification on the matter, political jobbers had resorted to heating up the polity with the issue.
“What began as an irritating distraction some months ago, appears to have now assumed a life of its own, dominating political discourse in the country, with all kinds of mischief-makers and opportunists latching on to it, to heat up the polity unnecessarily.
“The pointless, diversionary and very distractive hue and cry about the president’s alleged ambition to seek a second term in office is becoming increasingly disturbing by the day with headlines such as ‘Jonathan’s 2015 ambition can break up Nigeria’ and ‘Jonathan’s 2015 ambition fuelling insecurity’, now regular fare in our newspapers and on the internet.
“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, President Jonathan wishes to reiterate that his primary concern and the focus of all his efforts now, just about a year into the four-year tenure for which he was elected in April 2011, is to deliver on his promise of positive national transformation,” the statement said.
Jonathan maintained that his sole preoccupation now as he approaches the first anniversary of his presidency on May 29 is to continue to give effective and purposeful leadership to steer Nigeria towards overcoming its immediate security and developmental challenges.
He said that the 2015 elections and his possibility of running or not was not on his top priorities at the moment, adding that he had not authorised any individual or group to launch any campaign on his behalf.
“As he has repeatedly warned on many occasions, including the last national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, the inordinate ambition of a few self-centred Nigerians and their obsession with the politics of political succession in 2015 must not be allowed to distract the nation and its current leadership from the task of dealing with the much more urgent issues of development and the safety of Nigerians in all parts of the country,” the statement said.
Jonathan reiterated his call on politicians and the media to focus on the immediate priority of protecting, preserving and consolidating democratic governance in Nigeria rather than stoking the debate over his non-existing plot to run in 2015.
Despite his categorical statement in Addis Ababa during a visit to the Ethiopian capital, shortly before the last general elections that he would not run in 2015, the media have been awash with reports of Jonathan’s subtle moves to seek a second term in office.
The report was ignited by a suit filed by a PDP stalwart, Mr. Cyriacus Njoku, in which he asked an Abuja High Court to determine whether Jonathan was eligible to run for a second term in office.
The suit followed a statement credited to the president that he was serving his first term in office.
Njoku, in the suit, asked the court to determine which term Jonathan was serving, adding that the president cannot be a candidate in 2015 because he had been sworn-in twice.
In the suit in which the president, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission were respondents, Njoku, citing Section 137(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, argued that Jonathan cannot swear to an oath of office thrice, having taken the oath twice.
Jonathan took his first oath as president following the death of his principal, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the second time when he was sworn in on May 29, 2011 after his victory in the last presidential election.
However, the president in a 15-paragraph counter affidavit deposed to by Osahon Okeaya-Inneh, a lawyer in the law firm of Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh, described Njoku’s suit as frivolous and vexatious, adding that it failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action.
The president said he was entitled to a second term under the 1999 Constitution, if he so desires, because he was doing his first term of four years in office.
But in a notice of preliminary objection to the application to stop Jonathan from running in 2015, the PDP later sought an out of court settlement, stating that the president was eligible to run. The party also urged the court to dismiss Njoku’s suit.
Having reached an out of court settlement, the case has since been withdrawn by the plaintiff.