Abuja — The presidency yesterday refused to be drawn into the debate over whether President Goodluck Jonathan agreed with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors that he would run for only one-term in office.
Reacting for the first time to the claim by Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, that the president, in the run-up to the 2011 presidential election acquiesced to the governors' demand that he would serve only one term in office, the presidency described the claim and the debate it has generated as a distraction to the president.
Aliyu, speaking on a radio programme last weekend had disclosed that the president reached an agreement with the governors to serve only one term in office.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, in a statement, said the plot to draw Jonathan into discussions on whether he signed an agreement with the governors or not, was an attempt to distract him from his focused attention of transforming Nigeria.
According to Okupe, "From time immemorial, for every major event or contest in the world, there is always a time and a season apportioned.
"We wish to state categorically that this is neither the time nor the season to begin electioneering campaign or related discourse for the 2015 presidential election and so President Goodluck Jonathan will not jump the gun.
"Mr. President will therefore stoutly resist any disguised or open attempt to drag him into any debate, argument or political discussion relating to a presidential election in 2015.
"The president considers this as an invidious attempt to sway him from his chosen pursuit of the set-out constituents of the transformation agenda which forms the basis upon which Nigerians overwhelmingly elected him to steer the ship of the nation in 2011."
He said Jonathan's focus for the moment remained the "completion of ongoing projects in the power sector to ensure that Nigerians enjoy steady power supply for domestic and industrial purposes".
The president, he added, was also focusing on improving infrastructure in every part of the country by ensuring speedy completion of major ongoing road projects, construction and rehabilitation of rail lines as well as rehabilitation and modernisation of the nation's airports.
He listed other priorities of the president to include working towards providing Nigerian children and youths with good and functional education at all levels; ensuring that Nigerians have greater access to improved and affordable health care facilities, job creation for the youths, and transformation of the agricultural sector to guarantee food sufficiency, create wealth for Nigerians and to make the nation become a net exporter of food and agro-based raw materials.
Other issues engaging the president's attention, Okupe said, were to "reform our oil and gas sector to increase efficiency, guarantee value for money and ensure greater local content participation in the industry."
He explained that Jonathan would not "for any reason abandon these laudable goals to engage in a distractive political debate with any individual or group of persons".
"We will not hold it against anyone who wishes to pursue such agenda because Nigeria is a free country and will continue to be so under this president. For now, this is our position on this matter and we assure Nigerians of Mr. President's resolve to continue to devote his energy to a successful implementation of the transformation agenda, fix Nigeria and thereby justify the mandate freely given to him by the Nigerian people."