The greatest threat yet to President Goodluck Jonathan’s ambition in 2015, should he decide to contest, is the eight  years Constitutional provision of two  terms of four years each. The one year, and one month he stayed in office as President Consequent upon President Yar’ Adua’s death would have made his stay in office Nine years and one month, this would have clearly offended the later and spirit of Nigeria’s Constitution, at least from the point of view of his opponents and judicial PRECEDENT.
Though the facts in late President Yar’Adua/President Jonathan tenure and that of Dr Ngige/Peter Obi to Senator Andy Uba’s case are different because as the Vice, President Goodluck Jonathan inherited the Presidency of late President Yar’Adua, and Andy Uba won 2007 Governorship election in Anambra State and was asked to vacate office after seventeen days in the saddle. BUT THE BIG SIMILARITY HERE IS THAT THREE YEARS WAS WISHED AWAY IN ANAMBRA STATE AND FOR PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN TO CONTEST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN 2015, ONE YEAR AND ONE MONTH MUST BE WISHED AWAY. This is the crux of the matter.
The real problem here is tenure variation occasion by Apex Court inability to understand that from 2003 when the tenure of Peter Obi should have started, Dr. Nwabueze Ngige was sworn-in as the Governor of Anambra State instead. When in 2006 the Court was able to establish that Peter Obi actually won the 2003 governorship election in Anambra State, he was sworn-in as the Governor. The Apex Court also refused to accept that tenure of four years is fixed from the first handover date in Anambra State on May 29, 1999 in particular and Nigeria in general. We now have on our hand a seven  year tenure in Anambra State; that is, a tenure that started on May 29 2003, ended in March 15 2010, thus setting a dangerous Precedent in Nigeria.
By virtue of Constitutional provision, the one year and three months President Goodluck Jonathan inherited from the tenure of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL. Should he then win in 2015, the eight years he would have spent in office will still be LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL. We would then be having a President that spent nine and half legal and Constitutional years in office. This will clearly offend the provision of two terms maximum, of four years each in office in the Constitution. It may be argued that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt [FDR] ruled the United States of America a record 4 times, while should the one and half year President Jonathan spent in office upon Yar’Aduas death mean anything. The answer here is that after FDR’s era, the Constitution of USA was amended to allow only two terms of eight years for any President that comes after him. The remedy to this potentially dangerous scenario that may be erroneously available to PDP will be DOCTRINE OF NECESSSITY and this will be near impossible if not impossible altogether considering the controversy that trailed Zoning arrangement PDP upon the demise of President Yar’Adua. Also, the way and manner the House of Representatives Leadership emerged is another sore issue here. The just concluded election of Nigeria Governors Forum [NGF] won by the incumbent Chairman, Governor Chibuike Amaechi is still an indication that powerful enemies of President Goodluck Jonathan within the ruling People’s Democratic Party [PDP] are working round the clock to block his legitimate ambition in 2015. Should these scenarios occur the only option may be left will be a negotiated second term in office, to respect the fundamental right of President Jonathan to eight years in office as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria.
Even before now, it is still within the PDP fold that an action was instituted in court to stop the ambition of President Jonathan in 2015. There is no sign that the powerful actors involved in the court action have backed out of the plot after the court of first instance declared that the President can contest. A well known critic of Mr. President, Juniad Mohammed was among the first person to react to the ruling of the court. He was the one that said, only the Supreme Court can interpret extant law as to weather a democratically elected President can stay more than eight years in office contrary to the Constitutional provisions. A Governorship aspirant of PDP in Adamawa State Dr. Umar Ardo, had also toed the line of Juniad Mohammed on the tenure of President Jonathan. He cited the Supreme Court’s ruling on the tenure of five governors, where it affirmed that they cannot stay beyond the constitutionally stipulated eight years in office.
WHY JUSTICE BY PDP FOR ANDY UBA IN ANAMBRA STATE HOLDS THE ACE TO PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN’S ELEGIBILITY IN 2015.
Since it is an established fact that PDP is the only established party with national outlook and probably poised to rule Nigeria for a longer time, it must start the process of correcting this potentially dangerous distortion in Nigeria political system; that has coalesced on the party’s head and only waiting to implode. It is a trite fact that it is only in PDP that the court decides who must be its candidate in an election because of obvious reason of indiscipline and impunity. Even the budding rival party in Nigeria today, APC is only hoping to profit from PDP’s implosion, not because it has superior manifesto. One can now begin to appreciate the seriousness of a complex plot within and outside PDP against President Jonathan.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur led PDP must first of all, determine whether PDP perpetrated INJUSTICE against Andy Uba in 2010, when the party refused to accept that he was its flag-bearer in that year’s governorship election in Anambra State in defiance of the convention in the party. For instance, when the Court nullified the election of Governors of, Kogi, Adamawa and Cross-River States, these Governors never stood for new primary elections; they became automatic flag-bearers of the party in their respective States in the re-run elections. But the rule was different in Andy Uba’s case. The party went ahead to adopt Professor Charles Soludo as the flag-bearer and obviously pushed Uba out of PDP.
Having determined that a former PDP leadership did injustice to Andy Uba, the party can now go ahead and adopt him as the consensus candidate in the forth coming governorship election in the State as a giant step towards correcting the injustice done to him. This will now enable him to reactivate and renew the pact he had with the people of Anambra State as he will be massively voted in the election; as the State is without doubt, a PDP State.
PDP will in turn hand him a mandate to approach the Court for a judicial review of his case in 2007, with a view to establishing that the court erred in law by their judgment in Anambra State. THE OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF ANAMBRA STATE IS A CREATION OF THE1999 CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AND SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT CANNOT ALTER THE TENURE SO CREATED BY THAT. This is the only way President Goodluck Jonathan can contest Presidential election in 2015 and legitimately finish his tenure in 2019, should he win. Otherwise, the one and half years he spent as President of Nigeria upon Yar’Adua’s death will be counted in the course of computing his eight years tenure in office. This will now mean that President Jonathan will leave office around middle of 2016. Is Presidential election on the verge of joining the league of staggered elections in Nigeria? Only judicial review of 2007 Governorship election in Anambra State can save this potentially dangerous situation. Those who failed to see reason with Andy Uba’s just move to reverse the judgment of the Apex Court in 2007, are advised to take a look at this U.S. Supreme Court Judgment in, Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425 (1886) Argued March 24-25, 1886 Decided May 10, 1886, for a better understanding of tenure issue. Here is an extract from the judgment—–
Where an office exists under the law, it matters not how the appointment of the incumbent is made, so far as the validity of his acts are concerned. It is [page118 U.S. 445] enough that he is clothed with the insignia of the office, and exercises its powers and functions. As said by Mr. Justice Manning, of the Supreme Court of Michigan, in Carleton v. People, 10 Mich. 250, 259: “Where there is no office, there can be no officer de facto, for the reason that there can be none de jure. The county office existed by virtue of the constitution the moment the new county was organized. No act of legislation was necessary for that purpose. And all that is required when there is an office to make an officer de facto, is that the individual claiming the office is in possession of it, performing its duties, and claiming to be such officer under color of an election or appointment, as the case may be. It is not necessary that his election or appointment be valid, for that would make him an officer de jure. The official acts of such persons are recognized as valid on grounds of public policy, and for the protection of those having official business to transact.”——
President Goodluck Jonathan’s four year tenure from 2015, should he contest and wins, can only be legitimate till 2019 only if judicial review of Andy Uba’s aborted tenure is done and he is probably the right person to approach the court for this in his capacity as the flag-bearer of PDP in the forth coming Governorship election in Anambra State.
Surely, only a judicial review that must recognize that Dr. Nwabueze Ngige spent three  years of Governor Peter Obi’s tenure by the Supreme Court will avert a staggered Presidential tenure that may start with President Goodluck Jonathan. Recognition that Andy Uba actually won 2007 Governorship election in Anambra State will mean that President Jonathan completed late Yar’Adua’s tenure as a de-facto President, just as Ngige was the de-facto Governor of Anambra State from 2003-2006 when was removed from office as Governor. The Supreme Court judgment on TENURE as quoted above, which is in line with international best practices is the only remedy otherwise, we may live with the consequence of error of 2007 judgment in Anambra State. So, GENUINE PDP, THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT!
Emeka Oraetoka, is the Coordinator General of Anambra Collective [AC].
Lives in Abuja