In the first part of this analysis, I made an extensive analysis of the Twenty Second Amendment of the United States Constitution with emphasis on the election of 2015 in Nigeria.As stated in that analysis, the 22nd Amendment of U.S. Constitution puts in proper perspective the tenure of a U.S President as well as a Vice President who metamorphoses to a President as a result of death, incapacitation, resignation or impeachment of the serving President. According to the Twenty Second Amendment, the tenure of a U.S. President is two terms of eight (8) years; but where a Vice President becomes a President because an incumbent President leaves office before serving out his tenure, the former Vice President now President may serve for a maximum tenure of ten (10) years, if the residue of tenure he completed is below two years. However, he will serve for a maximum tenure of four years after completing the tenure, if the tenure he completed is above two years. What this means is that if the Twenty Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is adopted in Nigeria, President Jonathan is entitled to serve a maximum tenure of 10 years. On the strength of this fact, Chief Obasanjo and indeed so many other Nigerians who ask President Goodluck Jonathan not to run in the 2015 election miss the point.
In order to further buttress my argument that President Jonathan is eligible to run for a second tenure, I now give details on how a similar issue was handled in the United States at some critical stages of her political evolution. Since we voluntarily decided to adopt the Presidential system of Government, it behooves us to ascertain how United States resolved some nagging problems in its over 200- year existence as an Independent state and a bastion of democracy in the world.An in-depth investigation of United States Presidency reveals that United States which gained Independence on July 4, 1776 has lost eight of her Presidents while in office-four died by assassination while four died of natural causes. The eight U.S. Presidents who died in office include (1) William Henry Harrison, 9th President (1841) died April 4, 1841 from Pneumonia;
(2) Zachary Taylor,12th President(1849-50) died July 9,1850 from food poisoning or cholera; (3) Abraham Lincoln,16th President(1861-65) died April 15th,1865 by assassination; (4) James Abram Garfield,20th President(1881) died September 19.1881 from food poisonin; (5) William McNally, 25th President (1987-1901) who died on September 14, 1901 by assassination; (6) Warren Harding, 29th President (1921-23) died August 2, 1923 from a heart attack.
(7) Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President (1933-1945) died April 12, 1945 from a cerebral hemorrhage.
(8) John F. Kennedy, 35th President (1961-63) died November 22, 1963 by assassination. In all the eight cases, the Vice President automatically succeeded the President.
Let us now take a look at each of the cases in order to ascertain how the succession was effected.
(1) President William Henry Harrison: His tenure was just for 31 days – the shortest tenure for a President in U.S. history. He was also the first U.S. President to die while in office. He was succeeded by the Vice President, John Tyler, who took the Oath of office on April 6th 1841. As a result of the serious decline of his popularity at the end of his tenure, he decided on his own volition not to run for the Presidency in the 1844 election.
(2) Zachary Taylor was succeeded by his Vice President, Millard Fillmore. His party denied him nomination to run as candidate for the party in the 1852 Presidential election. A war hero, General Winfield Scott was preferred but he was defeated by Franklin Pierce of the Democratic Party.
(3) Abraham Lincoln: He died on April 15, 1865 and was succeeded by Vice President, Andrew Johnson. After completing the tenure of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson did not run for a fresh term
(4) James Abraham Garfield: He died on September 20, 1881 of wounds inflicted months before by an assassin. He was succeeded by the vice president, Chester A. Arthur. He merely served out the tenure of the late President and bowed out without seeking to participate in the election of 1884.
(5) WILLIE MCKINLEY: He was the 25th President of the United States. He died on September 14, 1901 by assassination. He was succeeded by the Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt. After successfully completing the remaining term of his predecessor, he declined to run for another term, even though he was very popular among the citizenry. However, he endorsed the party’s chosen candidate, William Howard TAFT, to run for the President. His chosen candidate eventually won the election and became President.
(6) Warren Harding: the 29th President (1921-23) He died on August 2, 1923 from a heart attack. On that same day, his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, took the Oath of office as President. After serving out the tenure of his predecessor, he ran for President in 1924 and defeated Democrats John W. Davis. After serving out the tenure of Harding and winning election for another term, he did not run for a second term
(7) Franklin Delano Roosevelt: He became President after winning the election of 1932. He was elected President for a record four tenure. He was sworn in on March 4, 1933, January 20, 1937, January 20, 1941 and January 20, 1945. He defied precedent and served four terms as president. Before then, there was no limit to the maximum tenure of a U.S. President. It was this development that gave rise to the enactment of the Twenty Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which pegged the maximum tenure for an elected president to eight years (ie. Two terms) and a maximum of ten (10 years) for a Vice President who completed the tenure of a former president, provided the period he completed is below two years.
When he died on April 1945, the Vice President, Harry Truman, succeeded him. President Harry Truman also ran for the Presidency in 1948 and won. After that one full term, he did not present himself for election in the 1952 election. The 1952 election was won by the Republican Party candidate, General Dwight Eisenhower.
8. John F. Kennedy: He was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. He took the Oath of office of President on Jan. 20, 1961. He was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson, the then vice president. After serving out the tenure of J.F. Kennedy, he ran for a fresh election in 1964. He defeated the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, in a landslide victory. He was expected to run for a second tenure in 1968 but he surprisingly declined to run. Addressing the nation on television, President Lyndon Johnson said. “I will not seek, and I will not accept my party’s nomination for the presidential election in 1968”. He supported his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, to run as the candidate of the party. However, he lost the election to Richard Nixon.
President Lyndon B. Johnson is the only president who could have served more
than 8 years under the Twenty Second Amendment. He became President in 1963 in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He served the last 14 months of JFK’s tenure. Since this was below two years, he was entitled to serve another term (and even a maximum of ten years as President). He won the first term in 1964 but declined to run in the 1968 election.
Richard Nixon: He won the election of 1968 as well as a second tenure in 1972. He was the 37th president of the United States. He was in office from January 20, 1969 – August 9th, 1974. As a result of the Watergate Scandal which affected his Administration, President Richard Nixon made a resignation speech on August 8, 1974 and resigned from the Presidency on August 9, 1974 on the grounds of a desperate move to avert being impeached and sacked as President.
It is pertinent to emphasized that in the history of the United States, only two Presidents have been impeached but none has been removed from office. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. President Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 and he escaped removal from office by one vote in the senate. President William J. Clinton was impeached in 1998 BY THE House of Representatives and he escaped conviction in the senate on a vote of 53-46.
Richard Nixon was succeeded by the Vice President, Gerald Ford. President Gerald Ford served the last 29 months of Nixon’s second tenure. Under the Twenty second Amendment, the constitution allows him to run for just one more term since the residue of tenure he completed was above two years. He ran for a second tenure in 1976 but lost to Jimmy Carter.
The bottom-line of the above analysis is that all the eight Presidents of the United States who died in office as well as Richard Nixon who voluntarily resigned from office were swiftly succeeded by the Vice Presidents. Some of them ran for fresh election after completing the tenure of their predecessors, while others voluntarily declined to run for fresh elections. None of them was forced out of office or stopped from seeking a fresh tenure through blackmail, intimidation, coercion and obtaining any pacts through duress or coercion as some groups in Nigeria are now doing to President Jonathan. The easiest way for the much-hyped disintegration of Nigeria in 2015 to be a reality is for any groups to gang up to deny President Jonathan a ticket in the 2015 Presidential election.
As a Nigerian of Imo State extraction, I advise that it is suicidal for any Igbo politician to campaign against President Jonathan in the 2015 election. Since some groups from some sections of Nigeria have ruled Nigeria for about 40 years since Independence in 196o, I do not see any reason for any right thinking person to be on a campaign of scuttling the 2015 Presidency project of Presidency Jonathan.Those who have a pathological hatred for President Jonathan are free to nominate another politician from the South South political region to be the flag bearer of All Progressive Congress (APC) orany other party. Since Professor David West is a bosom friend of Buhari, how about fielding him or any other South-South politician to run against President Jonathan in order complete the tenure of the South /South Political region. The issue is not about President Jonathan, per se, but rather it’s about the need to allow the South/ South Zone to complete their two terms. A situation where a zone that is the cash cow of the nation cannot be allowed to complete their two terms is the stuff of which the so- called 2015 prophecy of the disintegration of Nigeria is made. After a century of practicing an ever wobbly, nascent and fledgling democracy, it’s time for Nigeria to settle down to the realities of an undiluted Federal System of Government which will be premised on the rules of Resource Control. After all, after 100 years of the forced Amalgamation of 1914, the Amalgamation pact appears to have become obsolete, otiose and untenable; it has expired and there is a dire need to review it in order to ascertain if the pact can be salvaged or left to die a natural death on account of old age or on the grounds of a frustrated contract.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi: In 2007, the then President, Chief Obasanjo, told Nigerians that Rotimi Amaechi had a K. leg hence he(OBJ) ruled him out of the 2007 governorship race. However, he was reinstated by the Supreme Court who in a controversial judgment ordered that Rotimi Amaechi should be sworn in as Governor, even though he did not participate in the April 14, 2007 governorship election. If the courts had listened to that prediction of BABA and shut Rotimi Amaechi out of the governorship, Nigerians and indeed the PDP would have been spared the ongoing embarrassments, caused by his loquaciousness, and impetuosity. He should be seen as a prodigal son who needs advice and counseling. Before now, Adaka Boro and Ken Saro Wiwa were two South/ South militants who donated their services to facilitate the political conquest of the North. Both were executed by the same Northern leaders after they had used the two men to achieve their nefarious goals. Today, Rotimi Amaechi is next in the line. After using his services, they will simply eliminate him. By the way, what is the origin of Rotimi in his name? Is he really a fully fledged son of South/ South political region or a Fifth Columnist? To be forewarned is to be forearmed. (CONCLUDED)