The leadership of the New Peoples Democratic Party has said that President Goodluck Jonathan is not qualified to seek reelection in 2015.
The reasons why he cannot contest, according to the group, are: The 1999 Constitution, an agreement the President entered into and his open statement in Turkey in 2011.
The President had on Monday said that the 1999 Constitution allowed him to be in office for a maximum of eight years.
He had said, “Already, we have a constitution that makes provision for maximum of eight years for anyone who wants to become a President or a governor.
“There is no President or governor that all citizens vote for but at the end of the election, if somebody emerges, you must allow the person to work.
“If you love your country, you would want your country to work. That does not mean that you will not vote against the person if you don’t like the way he works, but you must allow him to work.”
But the New PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, warned that Jonathan’s second term ambition was not in the best interest of the country.
“After reviewing the state of the nation and the pulse of Nigerians, we wish to advise President Jonathan to abandon his plan to seek re-election in 2015 as this is not in the best interest of the country,” it added.
Admitting that the President had yet to categorically declare his intention to run, the New PDP said he had given enough clues that he would do so.
The statement reads, “We are worried that Mr. President is intent on running despite his earlier promise not to do so and in spite of the wise counsel of well-meaning Nigerians, including respected elder statesmen.
“In February, 2011 while interacting with Nigerians and diplomats working in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union in Ankara, Turkey, President Jonathan clearly stated ‘I would have loved that the Nigerians in the Diaspora vote this year (2011) but to be frank with you, that is going to be difficult now.
‘Presently, the law does not allow the voting outside Nigeria and so this year, Nigerians in Diaspora will not vote but I will work towards it by 2015 even though I will not be running for election.’
“Mr. President went ahead to add, ‘Four years is enough for anyone in power to make significant improvement and if I can’t improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything even if I am there for the next four years.’
“This is a historical fact which Mr. President himself cannot deny now since he had two years to deny that statement but never did so.”
It asked the President how he would want Nigerians and the entire world to see him if he eventually makes a U-Turn.
“Why can he not keep his words as a man of honour instead of allowing himself to be misled by selfish advisers to go back on his words, thereby overheating the polity?”
The faction called on the President to heed the advice of well-meaning personalities such as Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN) and Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, all of whom had advised him to correctly read the handwriting on the wall and stay away from the 2015 presidential race.
While saying that by 2015, Jonathan would have been in office for six years, it added that this was enough time for him to achieve whatever he planned for Nigeria.
It said, “What else is he looking for that is making him desperate to participate in the 2015 presidential election despite warnings that doing so may spark a chain of events capable of culminating into the country’s disintegration thereby bringing to pass the predictions of Lord Lugard that Nigeria as a nation by 2014 maybe history, which was later confirmed by the USA Think-Tank that Nigeria may disintegrate by 2015. “
The group , therefore, appealed to the President “to abandon this ill-advised move and save our nation from catastrophe.” It added that God has been merciful to him by lifting him from being a university teacher to a President
“We urge you Mr. President to listen to the voice of reason and avoid over-stretching your good luck. A word is enough for the wise,” the New PDP added.
Before the statement, Eze had told one of our correspondents on the telephone in Abuja, that going by the 1999 Constitution, the President was not qualified to run in 2015.
He said, “Our position is that he is not qualified to run in 2015 because by that time, he would have been in office for six years.
“If he runs in 2015 and rigmaroles himself to power, he would be in office for 10 years by 2019 and the Constitution does not allow that.
“The President knows this and this was the reason he said in New York that the constitution allows him and the governors to spend eight years and not 10 years as he is plotting now.”
Eze claimed that some New PDP members were in possession of a document where the President promised not to run in 2015.
“We have fact and figures that the President promised not to run come 2015. At the appropriate time, we will release the document. Let him continue to make noise,” he added.
Eze said if the President could not honour an agreement he willingly made with people without coercion, it would be difficult to take him seriously.
The Presidency however vowed on Tuesday that nobody or group of individuals, including the New PDP, was capable of stopping Jonathan if he decided to contest the 2015 election.
Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, said unrealisable ambition had blinded members of the New PDP to the extent that they were no longer aware that Nigeria was governed by law.
He said, “The Abubakar Baraje group (New PDP) is an outlaw as far as the law of this country is concerned. The country is governed by law.
“As far as I am concerned, there is no political crisis in the country. It is a group of few people with unrealisable ambitions that are blinded to the fact that there is a Constitution and there is the Electoral Act.
“These people, supported by the media, are the ones making a storm out of a tea cup.
“When we reach the bridge, we will cross it. But I will continue to say that nobody or group of individuals, be it the Baraje group or not, can stop Mr. President from contesting 2015 election if he resolves to do so.
“Stopping him is abridging his constitutional right and it is illegal.”
Also, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP, Mr. Ibrahim Jalo, said that it was wrong to equate what the President said in New York to mean a declaration of intent to run in 2015.
He said, “The President has not said he is running in 2015 even though it is his right to do so. The President said the constitution allows him to run for second term; that is correct.
“But let me say that the President still stands by his statement that he would let Nigerians know if he would be running for second term or not, by 2014.
“Nigerians, especially journalists, should allow the ongoing peace talks(in the PDP) to work out. We should stop misinterpreting the President.”