Prominent legal practitioners, Chief Afe Babalola and Prof. Itse Sagay, have called on President Goodluck Jonathan to respect his promise to contest for a single term in office.
Also, a leader in Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and President, Campaign for Democracy, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, alligned with Babalola and Sagay in calling on Jonathan to concentrate on governance instead of devoting his time to actualising a second term in office in 2015.
Sagay said it was morally and politically wrong for Jonathan to preoccupy himself with the 2015 agenda and abandon other vital state assignments.
In a telephone interview with our correspondent on Monday, Sagay said Jonathan was elected for four years and should devote his time, skill and industry for the development and transformation of the nation.
Sagay said, “If that is in fact the case, then obviously it is extremely politically and morally wrong. It may not be legally or constitutionally wrong but it is morally and politically wrong. A President is elected for four years. He is expected to devote all his time, skill and industry to serve the people for those four years.
“If he now spends most of his time seeking a renewal, then obviously, it will distract the quality of service he is rendering and will therefore not be doing his duties.
He, however, said it was wrong for anybody to say that Jonathan is serving his second term.
According to him, Jonathan had only contested election for one term and is constitutional and legally entitled to contest a second term.
Sagay said, “Some people are very insincere. It is obvious that Jonathan has only contested one election; that under the Constitution, he is entitled to contest two terms. Now, whether he contradicts his earlier promises or not, is a different matter.”
Babalola advised Jonathan to honour his promise to run for presidency for only one term as a mark of respect for his office.
Babalola said this during a lecture titled, ‘Philanthropy and law: any crossing line?’ at a programme organised by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Ibadan, on Monday.
He noted, however, that there was no written agreement to back the promise.
Although the guest lecturer and Founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, stated that going by the nation’s (1999) Constitution, the president had the right to contest for second term in 2015, he said the president owed the nation a duty not to re-contest in keeping with his promise.
He said, “I do not know any portion of the 1999 Constitution which says if President has been sworn in twice he cannot contest second term. I believe, subject to correction, that the sitting president, earlier served the remaining period in the tenure of his former principal, late President Umar Yar’Adua, before contesting in 2011.
“If he said he would serve for just one term while campaigning, he should keep his words to retain his credibility.”
Adebanjo said President Goodluck Jonathan should concentrate on positive development of the country and stop chasing a 2015 presidential ambition for now.
Adebanjo said, ‘‘All I know is that I hold him to electoral promises and word that he would contest a single term. He must concentrate on positive development of the country. A year has passed and I don’t know what we can point at except the establishment of panels whose reports we are awaiting.’’
Okei-Odumakin said it was unfortunate that the President was “pouring fuel into a raging fire” by partaking in the debate over 2015.
Okei-Odumakin wrote in a text message to our correspondent, ‘‘It is quite unfortunate that the President is pouring gasoline into a burning flame by injecting himself into the 2015 debate. A President who cares about the health of the badly divided polity would have been circumspect on such an issue.