Daily Trust (Abuja)

9 August 2012

Nigeria: Joda Asks Jonathan to Renounce 2015 Bid

Photo: Vanguard
President Goodluck Jonathan

President Jonathan should defuse political tension in the country by renouncing any intention he might have to stand for re-election in 2015, elder statesman Alhaji Ahmed Joda has said.

Jonathan has not said he will run for president again but neither did he say he won't, and political pundits say his 'body language' indicates that he will join the race.

In a recent submission by his lawyer in a court case seeking to disqualify him from standing for re-election, Jonathan insisted that he is eligible for re-election.

Joda, who served as permanent secretary in the 1970s, advised the President to publicly announce that he won't go for it so as to dampen political tension created by the suspense over his candidacy.

"(The) President should defuse the present political tension that now pervades the country. This should begin with his renouncing any intention he may have of contesting the 2015 elections and devoting his entire time, energy and the resources of the country in order to give Nigeria a credible and acceptable Constitution; a free, transparent and fair election," he said in a statement in Abuja.

Joda, a former chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission during the tenure of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo, said also that Jonathan "should restructure his cabinet; appoint more credible people; complete his present mandate to continue the work of governing the country to preside over a free, fair and transparent general election in 2015;

"Immediately impose an Austerity Budget and reduce government waste; work with the judicial system to undertake an accelerated fight against corruption; visibly demonstrate that all awarded government contracts are faithfully and actively being executed; (and) become more visibly and more actively engaged in solving present security challenges."

On constitution review, Joda suggested for the establishment of constituent assembly to review the constitution, saying that advocates of a sovereign conference are being encouraged by the credibility problems of elected officials.

"In this situation, it is clearly not safe to leave matters of the review of the Constitution in the hands of those now in power. In order for us to undertake a comprehensive review of the Constitution, a body different from the present National Assembly, State Houses of Assemblies and the Presidency should be empowered to undertake the task.

"This contribution is only concerned in drawing attention to the need to devise an acceptable way of approach towards a solution of our constitution and the political crisis associated with the exercise.

"It appears that a likely more acceptable arrangement will be the establishment of a Constituent Assembly, with a full mandate to comprehensively review the Constitution. The Constituent Assembly should be composed of an entirely elected membership.

"No representation should be permitted for special interests. The election should be on zero political party bases. Serving members of any legislative body should not be eligible. Public servants, who wish to serve, must resign from their offices. The Constituent Assembly should be brought into being by an Act of the National Assembly."

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