BY HENRY UMORU
ABUJA—AHEAD of 2015 Presidential election, former Federal Commissioner for Information and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, reiterated that nobody in Nigeria can stop President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting.
The elder statesman who noted that Nigeria belongs to all and no tribe can boast of its superiority over others, stressed that it was not speculation that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will adopt President Jonathan as its sole candidate.
Speaking when he received a delegation of second Republic House of Representatives members who paid him a visit at his Asokoro residence in Abuja, Chief Clark maintained that Nigerian citizens were equal and can aspire to the highest office in this country, adding that the person should remain in office in line with the Constitution of the country.
According to him, in civilised democracies where the minority and majority ethnic groups exist, it has never been the prerogative of the majority ethnic group to lord it over the minorities.
He said: “For instance, in Great Britain from whom we got our independence, there are the English, the Welsh and the Scottish. The English are the majority, followed by the Scottish and then the Welsh. Each of these ethnic groups has produced the Prime Minister of Great Britain based on the quality of the candidate. In fact, in recent times the Scottish has come to produce more Prime Ministers than the English who are the majority.”
Chief Clark who noted that it was the constitutional right of President Jonathan to contest for re-election in 2015, said, “The Constitution provided for two terms. In 1979, Shehu Shagari from the North was president until 1983 when he got his second term but Buhari for reasons best known to them, they thought that at the end of his second ruling he will hand over to Ekwueme or to Akinloye. They then staged a coup and drove him (Shagari) away and imprisoned all the politicians. Who took over? Another Northerner.
“ The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for two tenures of four years each after two democratically conducted elections. Apart from the illegality of the purported agreement with the northern state governors, such a mindset violates the letter and spirit of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. There is no speculation that the PDP is planning to impose President Jonathan as the sole candidate of the party in the upcoming convention.
“The practice in democratic presidential system of government is that an incumbent president remains the sole candidate of a political party at the party’s convention, if he or she is willing to contest for a second term in office. This is the practice in the United States of America from where Nigeria copied her own model of the presidential system of government.
“When the American type of presidential system was adopted in Nigeria in 1978/1979, former President Shehu Shagari was the sole candidate of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, when he chose to run for a second tenure in the 1983 Presidential election. Or do you think there was dearth of qualified candidates in that era? Note that in the words of Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, ‘the NPN had many men of timber and calibre who were ready to contest the presidential primaries if Alhaji Shehu Shagari had not indicated his intention to contest.’
“The list is endless. In 2003, it was only through the instigation of some governors led by Chief James Onanefe Ibori who were disappointed that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar stepped down for his boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that Dr. Alex Ekwueme was persuaded to contest the presidential primaries against the party’s decision. However, he was defeated by President Obasanjo who had the party’s blessings.
“To lend credence to the fact that a sitting president is entitled to a second term, the ambitious and unpatriotic governors and some Northern conservative politicians confirmed this constitutional provision by saying that it was the second term of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua that the North wanted to complete in 2011. In other words, late President Yar’Adua was entitled to eight years in office but Dr. Jonathan is entitled to only a single term contrary to the 1999 Constitution. Is that not double standard? What a shame!
He, therefore, called on Nigerians to support President Jonathan and his transformation agenda which he said was for the interest of the country.
Leader of the delegation, Umar Lawan said they came to celebrate with Clark on his 86 birthday and express the willingness of his members to support Jonathan’s re-election in 2015 giving his outstanding achievements in office.