The Presidency on Monday made a U-turn as it gave a condition under which it would back the six-year single term for President and governors as recommended by the Senate Committee on Constitution amendment.
The condition which is in variance to its earlier promise to abide by any law on single term, is that such an amendment must take effect from 2019 after President Goodluck Jonathan and other first term governors would have completed their second term if elected.
Making the Presidency’s latest stance known is the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, who was a guest on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
Gulak, who hinged support for the single tenure amendment on a 2019 take-off date, explained that it would give President Jonathan and first term governors the opportunity to contest the 2015 elections.
Now, this is contray to his statement on May 1 where he stated in an interview that the President was ready to forget his ambition to run for second term in 2015 if the proposal for single non-renewable six-year tenure sailed through.
Gulak was quoted to have said, “Nigerians will remember that it was President Jonathan that suggested an idea of a single term from the beginning. So if the proposal becomes a law, the credit should go to the President.”
He added, “If it becomes a law and is enshrined in our constitution, the President and everybody will be bound by the provision of that law. We are not seeing the move as a way of stopping the President from re-contesting in 2015. The law cannot be made because of one individual. When it takes effect, everybody will be bound by it.”
But singing a new tune on Monday, Gulak said by 2019, the President and state governors who are currently serving their first term of four years would have completed their second and final term as allowed by the 1999 Constitution.
He said with the amendment taking off in 2019, the country would then start on a clean slate with the President and governors that would emerge then already aware that they would serve only a single tenure of six or seven years as the case may be.
He said, “The President has the single tenure idea and he still stands by it. The difference is that the amendment should not be in such a way that it will be targeted at a group of people.
“The committee’s proposal is that those incumbent governors and the President who are supposed to enjoy second term will not participate.
“What we are saying is that laws are not amended to target a particular group of people. It could have been okay if all those first term governors are allowed to participate, and after 2019, anybody coming in will know that he is going to be elected under the amended constitution.
“As it is today, it appears that the first term governors will be shortchanged because their rights to be re-elected or to contest under the 1999 Constitution as amended would have been abridged if this proposal goes through.
“Is it proper to shortchange them when they were elected under a constitution that allows them two terms of four years each? That is the crux of the matter.”
Gulak noted that the President agreed not to benefit from the single tenure proposal when he first mooted the idea because he believed that the amendment would only take effect after he or the governors might have finished their second terms.
He, however, expressed the belief that the proposal would not see the light of day since the process involved in amending the constitution was a long one.
Gulak was confident that party politics would come to play at the appropriate time.