here is no gainsaying that one of the principal reasons for the emergence of a faction in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is the unflinching efforts on the part of some party members towards ensuring that president Goodluck Jonathan does not contest in the 2015 presidential election. The cover under which they hide- aggrieved party members- offers little or no justification for the creation of the faction. In a more precise language, they dread Jonathan’s ambition to contest more than anything else. For all their demands to be met, except that Jonathan is contesting, their grievances will only worsen. President Jonathan once again made it clear that he is eligible to contest in the 2015 polls when he met with the Nigerian professionals in the United States. The statement was immediately rebutted by the new PDP. Obviously, one of them is wrong!
The 1999 constitution as amended is no doubt the grundnorm, and its provisions have binding force on all persons and authorities throughout Nigeria. Furthermore, no agreement that is inconsistent with its provisions shall have the force of law. This, of course, is a fact known by both the presidency and the Baraje-led faction. In ideal societies, people don’t argue against the law that governs them, they only seek for its interpretation, in the law courts. Thus, it is stupefying to hear the new PDP say that Jonathan is ineligible to contest, as his eligibility is provenance from the 1999 constitution, section 137(b) thereof, which provides that a person is disqualified for election to the office of the president if “he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections” (italics mine, and for the sake of emphasis). President Jonathan has only been elected once, which gives him the constitutional right to seek for re-election. This was the ruling of an Abuja High court when Cyracious Njoku dragged the issue to court. That should have settled every contention as to Jonathan’s eligibility. Now that it has not, we are left with no options, than to avouch that the new PDP are in the words of Bisi Akande, “kindergarten” in their perceptions and analysis of political and legal issues.
Considering the purported agreement reached, and president Jonathan’s open statement made in Turkey in 2011, to the effect that he won’t contest at the 2015 polls, will not actually hamper him from contesting. As a matter of fact, he has the choice to honour that agreement or not, as it has no binding force of law. But I must not fail to mention that in polite societies, men of honour never go back on their words. This actually characterizes monarchy, as a king speaks but only once. That’s noble, and of course honorable! On the other way round, I doubt if Jonathan has anything to lose by not honoring the prior agreement and statement. Get me right, Jonathan is a good man I admire so much, but “honour” is a hard-earned virtue. How do Nigerians see him? Or maybe I should say that issues of honour matter very little in this part of the world; as those blowing the honour whistle, were they to be in his shoes, will act with dishonor.
It’s high time we desisted from all talks of Jonathan’s eligibility, and ruminate into more serious issues that bother our polity, and Jonathan’s intention. Is Jonathan worthy to contest the 2015 elections? This is supposed to be the basis of all contentions as to whether Jonathan should contest or not. It was Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau during the presidential debate before the 2011 elections that said a person is fit to lead this nation considering his past and antecedents; he can guarantee the satisfaction of standards of good governance. Has Jonathan passed/is passing this test?
Jonathan does not seem to be immune from compelling forces behind the scene. I am talking about his kinsmen and the south-south region in general. I have read Chief Edwin Clarke a couple of times, emphasizing that president Jonathan must contest, as it is unjust for the man from the West to serve for two term, and his kinsman be refused same. From all indications, Clarke’s statement is based on ethnic sentiments, which has corrupted and denigrated our politics. The likes of Asari-Dokubo, the warlord, are threatening wars and bloodshed. Well, he is not the first, as Gen. Buhari has earlier given a similar threat. So, I see no reason why we should disturb ourselves with Dokubo. What about Jonathan’s cabinet members? Can he ignore all these voices? Time alone can tell!
Time? No, I venture to be a seer in this issue. We have toured this route before. Yes, I see Jonathan contest in the 2015 presidential elections. This was how it all happened with the 2011 general elections. Now, he ignores Chief Tony Anenih, and all other people calling on him to declare his intention. Machineries are also being fixed by the day, to make it difficult for anybody to stop his ambition. “Time is not ripe”, he says, but when the time is ripe, he will declare his intention- his intention to contest. But whether he will win or not, Nigerians alone have the answer to that.