Vanguard (Lagos)

21 November 2012

Nigeria: 2015 - Country Risks Constitutional Crisis If Jonathan Contests - Junaid

Photo: Vanguard
President Goodluck Jonathan, led by Chief Justice Katsina Alu, takes the oath of office.

Abuja — Second Republic politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, yesterday spat fire on the decision by President Goodluck Jonathan to defer the declaration of his interest in the 2015 Presidency till 2014, arguing that it would be too cumbersome to salvage the nation from the crisis the belated action could trigger.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, the former lawmaker said Jonathan was courting avoidable trouble by pretending to be making up his mind on the next election, when in fact he had made up his mind to run in 2015.

According to the medical doctor-turned political activist, Jonathan should first subject his Presidential ambition to a judicial interpretation by the Supreme Court to stave off looming constitutional crisis that his action would generate in the country.

The Kano politician noted that given the furore already generated by the circumstance of his emergence as the President of Nigeria, Jonathan must clear the air early enough on his 2015 ambition so that those who have legal issues could challenge him appropriately and get redress.

Legal issues

Mohammed said: "He (Jonathan) will be doing Nigerians a big disservice if he waits till 2014 to declare his interest in the 2015 Presidency because there are Nigerians who have real legal issues to take up with him on the matter and he should do it in good time to prevent a constitutional crisis and violence.

"If Mr. President is a true Nigerian leader he should decide now so that those who have issues with him will go to court to challenge him and get redress.

"The issue is not about him but 160 million Nigerians whose fate is tied to the Presidency of Nigeria. Jonathan has no right to dilly dally with the destiny of Nigerians.

Jonathan not qualified to contest

But Mohammed made it clear that Jonathan was not qualified to contest in 2015, having taken the oath of office twice as Nigeria's President first in 2009 following the untimely death of Yar'Adua and later in 2011, thereby hitting the limit provided by Nigerian law.

According to him, allowing Jonathan to run in 2015 would have made him to serve 10 years instead of the maximum two terms of four years each stipulated by law, thereby making a mockery of the Nigerian Constitution.

He said: "The fact that he wants to run after declaring that he would spend only a term in office also places a moral burden on him and he should think about it if he is a gentleman with conscience. Common sense indicates that Jonathan has no right to contest in 2015.

"Most importantly, Jonathan should be told that the Constitution does not allow any Nigerian leader to take the oath of office twice. He has already exhausted the limit of his two terms."

FG in talks with Boko Haram

Mohammed also punctured the claim by Jonathan that his government was not negotiating with the Boko Haram sect, insisting that the Federal Government was not telling the nation the whole truth about the matter.

The politician insisted that the Presidency recently dispatched a minister from one of the Niger Delta states to Mali to meet with that country's top security official and some militant leaders sympathetic to the Boko Haram sect with a view to facilitating dialogue between the sect and the Federal Government.

He said: "This government has been having underground talks with Boko Haram and if the President says he is not negotiating with the sect, he is lying.

"What the government is trying to do with the Boko Haram matter shows the highest display of hypocrisy and dishonesty.

"The Federal Government cannot continue to justify its claim of not wanting to dialogue with Boko Haram after it negotiated with the Niger Delta militants and offered mouth-watering jobs and contracts to the mostly Ijaw boys only to turn round and denounce negotiations with another militant group.

"Is it because the Boko Haram sect leaders are not of Ijaw extraction where Mr. President comes from?"

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