2015 Presidency and the Legality of Immorality By Daniel Bo Ph.d


Cartoon 9 Nov 2011The legal question and the inalienability of President Goodluck Jonathan’s constitutional right to contest the presidency in 2015 are not in doubt. But, there is a moral question, an integrity question and a question of conscience. For a nation that is struggling with collapsed values and one where exemplary conduct is in short supply, there is a general hunger for leaders who can sacrifice their greed to restore new values. This is the biggest challenge before our leadership today.

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Niger State Governor Dr Babangida Aliyu claims that President Jonathan had promised he would serve only one term as president when he sought the office in 2011. Specifically, the Governor insists that during the build up to the 2011 presidential elections a meeting was held in November during which 20 PDP governors agreed to support President Jonathan on the condition that he would serve only one term. A communiqué to that effect is said to have been presented to stake holders in the PDP as evidence. However, Mr President, in his response to the claim is emphatic that he never signed any agreement to serve only one term as president. He deserves the benefit of doubt. So far, no one has disputed the communiqué or its content. But the weight of obligation conferred by a communiqué on parties is deficient. It does not expressly prove consent of Mr. President, at least legally. But the communiqué is a sore point that raises critical questions for Mr. President and his second term apologists. To convince Nigerians that he is a leader to be trusted, Nigerians need to know if indeed Jonathan was present at the meeting that produced the said communiqué. If he was not, were the resolutions conveyed to him? Did he reject the conditions under which he was to earn support of the 20 PDP governors? These are clearly not legal issues. They are moral questions any society that wants to operate on sound values that instill discipline and accountability would ask.

They are as important as legal obligations because they would provide answers to questions of trust, conscience and ultimately integrity. Except these questions are answered in the negative, it will be difficult to blur the line between legality or constitutionality on the one hand and morality and conscience on the other. The strength of evidence presented so far indicate that Jonathan never signed any document to serve a single term as president. But if silence is consent and he did not object to the terms spelt in the said communiqué, either in public or private, the arguments he is parading today are compromising the qualities of his statesmanship.

Beyond the said communiqué, Mr. President has been reminded of the promise he made while interacting with Nigerian diplomats working in the United Nation’s Economic Committee for Africa and the African Union in Ankara, Turkey in February 2011. He told the diplomats that current Nigerian legal system forbids Nigerians in Diaspora from voting in the nation’s general elections. But said he would review the law so that Nigerians in Diaspora would be granted opportunity to vote for candidates of their choice in the 2015 general elections. He promised to do so not for selfish reasons but out of statesmanship.

President Jonathan’s words: “Currently, the law does not allow voting outside Nigeria and so this year, Nigerians in Diaspora will not vote but I will work towards it by 2015, though I will not be running for election.” He insisted “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 (2015-2019).”

Not Mr President himself or any of his aides, ministers or die-hard 2015 apologists feel a compulsion to comment on Jonathan’s alleged promise to the diplomats, not to contest the 2015 presidency. It is not necessarily the fact that he wants to renege on his promise, freely and willingly made, locally and internationally that is of concern. What is worrisome is the attitude of some Nigerians which suggests that integrity, morality and conscience has no room in Nigeria today. Little attention is paid to obvious implication such irresponsibility would have on Nigerian citizens, particularly youths.

Curiously, even as he is yet to untangle from this integrity deficit, the president’s men have started a script. They have revealed that about 1,665 organizations are mounting pressure on Jonathan to contest the 2015 presidential elections. To some, it is a familiar road – late General Sani Abacha’s legacy. Then, the pressure was so much that 2 million Nigerians across the country were ready to march to Abuja to drag Abacha into the race for presidency. Abacha was the only Nigerian with the right attitude, integrity, experience, record of achievement, patriotism, etc, to save the country. He allegedly did what no President before him had done, and none after him may possibly do. Some courageous loyalists, among them statesmen, produced a list of achievements to demonstrate Abacha’s miracle-man status. Yet, the reality on the ground was different. Necessities were still luxury. Health, roads, education, power, water supply, etc, were in sorry states. Impunity and corruption were in vogue.

It was clear Abacha was scheming an alibi by creating an air of popularity and acceptability, to leverage possible use of the military, police, paramilitary organizations, INEC, etc, to rig him into power. It is a cherished legacy that is still relevant and in vogue.

The fact is Mr. President is a role model. He may choose to drive the nation towards a culture where leaders make promises they do not intend to keep, or say what they will not do. But Jonathan has a duty to teach Nigerian youths the virtues of decency, integrity, morality and conscience. His action can easily drive a sense of moral defeat and disorientation. President Jonathan has an obligation to restore our lost values. He had promised to restore confidence and trust in leadership. He knows, his government like previous ones, is trailed by huge trust deficit. He must be careful not to allow the craze for power, typical of African leaders, overwhelm his love for our dear country Nigeria. Daniel Bo Ph.D is a public affairs analyst. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsolahttps://naija247news.com
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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