By Ese Awhotu
The issue of single tenure for President Good Luck Jonathan has resurfaced at the on-going National Conference with the release of a document requesting a tenure elongation forthe President, his deputy, NamadiSambo, and all the first term governors.
A delegate representing retired civil servants at the conference and a former permanent secretary, MrRobert Auduhas released a two-page document dated June 11, calling for the amendment of 1999 Constitution to allow them a six or seven-year single term for President Jonathan.
Audu’s document considered a proposal and titled “Adoption of Single Term to replace the two terms in the Constitution for Election of President and Governors,” was said to have been circulated to the delegates at the end of the plenary session on Monday.
Audu in his proposal drafted in his letter headedstated that tenure commencement is a landmark decision requiringcompromise, sacrifice and a demonstration of the Nigerian spirit by all. He said that the President, Vice President and First Term Governors and their deputies are the arrow head or ‘guinea pig’ for this new dispensation,
The one time governorship aspirant in Kogi state recalled in his proposal that under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, the single term of six years stood out as an acceptable proposition and that what was in contention was the mode of implementation, notably the take-off date and the obvious implications for incumbent president, vice president, governors and deputy governors.
He observed that while some people held the view that the six year singe term option should start after Rtd GeneralObasanjo’s two-term tenure in 2007, others held the view that the incumbent second term should be translated to the six year single term.
Audu noted that though the idea did not go down well with some people, a group introduced another novel idea of extending the existing two terms in the constitution to three terms which ignited the now infamous “third term” controversy under the Obasanjo Presidency.
He advised that instead of the hassle of campaigns and what is more, the savings of billions of naira from second term election can be utilized to pay unemployment
subsistence allowance to the large number of unemployed Nigerians by adopting tenure elongation for President Jonathan and others.
The delegate said previous attempts at the adoption of a single term did not succeed because of conflict of interests. He said only a body like the national conference could dispassionately examine his proposal and adopt it in the best interest of the nation.
Audu therefore recommended that theNational Assembly amend the 1999 Constitution to allow for a six or seven year single term with immediate effect.
He also recommended that the incumbent President, the Vice President and First Term Governors as well as the Deputy Governors translate to a six- or seven-year single term and their tenure to terminate in 2017 or 2018 in the spirit of “Doctrine of Necessity” compromise and political expediency.
Audusought the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to shift the coming general elections for the category of public officials to 2017 or 2018 while elections to fill vacancies of second term governors/deputy governors should hold in 2015 as originally scheduled.
He similarly demanded for a 50-state structure for Nigeria.
It would be recalled that OkonOsung, a delegate from the South-South geo-political zone, had in May called for the postponement or deferment of the 2015 elections at least by 18 months while retaining the democratic institutions at all levels of governance.