By HENRY UMORU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA — PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan and 13 governors seeking re-election in the 2015 general elections may have been technically barred from participation in the poll.
This followed revelation, yesterday, by Deputy Senate President and Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution Review that the new law, which bars serving president and governors from benefitting in the single 6-year term would take effect once it is passed by the National Assembly.
Ekweremadu, who briefed newsmen on the position of the committee regarding the report of the constitution review submitted to the Senate for further legislative action, Wednesday, said unless the committee comes out with a proviso to allow the serving president and governors benefit, their tenure terminates on May 29, 2015.
He said since the constitution review committee does not provide a particular day the new constitution would start functioning, it therefore means that it becomes effective from the day it is passed into law by the legislature.
With this development, governors of Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Kwarra, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti, Oyo, Zamfara, Gombe, Imo, Borno, Kaduna and Kogi states stand to lose out in their quest to remain in office beyond 2015.
The chairman of the constitution review committee therefore asked Jonathan and governors already serving to make sacrifices to their fatherland by excusing themselves from the system.
He said: “Those already serving should make sacrifices and excuse themselves from the system.”
When asked whether the development would not affect performances of the affected elected representatives, he said: “Anybody who wants to perform can do so within any time frame, not only when he is re-elected.”
Ekweremadu said in order not to over-heat the polity and cause friction among interested parties, the committee decided to bar serving vice president or deputy governors that assumed the positions of their bosses, due to circumstances of deaths, from participating in subsequent elections to retain the seats.
Throwing more light on why his committee rejected the request for creation of new states, he blamed stakeholders who submitted memoranda for not reading well, the various versions of the existing constitution which dwells on state creation, saying his committee should not be held responsible for the failure of any of the requests on state creation to pass through.
He said he owed Nigerians who any apology over the inability of the requests on state creation to scale through.
“Any person agitating for a state should study the constitution and get lawyers to guide them. This exercise should serve as a lesson to all of us agitating for state creation,” he insisted.
But in what appeared like an irony, Ekweremadu said the state police which his committee disallowed in the new law, was the best in the country, given its peculiar nature.
“I still strongly believe that the state police is the best way to go about effectively policing the lives and property of our people but as a presiding officer, I can only articulate the views of the people. For now, what majority of Nigerians want is keep the Nigeria Police Force until when it becomes expedient to introduce state police,” he said.
He said the new constitution would be passed by the national Assembly, saying it does not require presidential assent before it becomes law, saying such decision was to avoid ambiguity as according to him, if the president was allowed to assent to the proposed law, it will equally entailed the state governors to sign since State Houses of Assembly would also play major roles in its formation.
“We believe strongly that constitution amendment does not require presidential assent,” he insisted.