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Belgore panel rejects Jonathan’s seven-year single term – The Nation

There will be no room for the proposed single seven-year tenure in the report of the Justice Alfa Belgore’s Committee on Constitution Amendments.
The committee,which is close to winding up its assignment, has rejected the proposal submitted by the Presidency.
The proposal raised fresh dust on Thursday after the nascent Coalition of Northern Leaders, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, warned the Belgore Committee against any plot to elongate President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure.
It accused the panel of pursuing a ‘’sinister third term agenda’’ for Jonathan with a single seven-year proposal.
The Presidency dismissed the insinuation as curious and mischievous because the panel had not even concluded its work.
The Nation has established that the committee upheld the present four-year tenure in the 1999 Constitution for political office holders.
The report of the panel may be submitted to President Jonathan by the end of this month, according to indications yesterday.
An authoritative source said yesterday that the Presidency actually proposed a single tenure of seven years, which the panel rejected outright.
The source said: ”We had the proposal before us and we extensively debated the merits and demerits of the seven-year tenure. At the end of the day, we agreed that the nation should continue to run a four-year tenure system.
“There is nothing like Third Term Agenda because the President has not finished his first term in office.
“Having rejected the proposal, we cannot understand where this noise from the Coalition of Northern Leaders is coming from just to malign the hard-earned integrity of members of the committee.
“We are still writing the report. It is not true that we are trying to elongate the tenure of the President. We have retained the four-year system.
“We believe it is one of us that must be feeding northern leaders wrongly on the activities of the Belgore Committee. This member of the Belgore Committee has a close affinity with the coalition.
“The only thing I can tell you is that we debated the seven-year tenure proposal thoroughly before we opted for the present tenure system.’’
Responding to a question, the source said: “I don’t know what the North wants. I think they are making all these allegations to intimidate the South.
“We are one country, and it is to our advantage to remain as one country. What the committee is after is that we should let the best person rule this country.
“These northern leaders are lying; they are trying to intimidate the South. I am surprised that the media in the South is buying into this intimidation.
“I wish southern elders can reach out to the committee to have the full details of its activities.’’
On the controversial revenue allocation formula, the source said: “We resolved that we will not touch it and that it should be considered by an enlarged committee.’’
Asked when the committee would submit its report, the source said : “We hope to do so by the end of March. We are compiling it.”
The coalition in a statement by its convener, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, had said: ”The main effort by Belgore and other hirelings of the Villa has been to create a so-called new Constitution that paves the way for Jonathan to again contest the presidential election in 2015 for a single term of seven (7) years, that is, in addition to his current four (4) years to the nearly two (2) years he had served of the Yar’Adua Presidency.
“Belgore has nothing but contempt for issues in which the North feels cheated such as Abuja and revenue allocation, and his dangerous antics have divided the committee, leading to acrimonious debates and near fist-fights with Belgore feigning helplessness while surreptitiously helping his own side.
“The whole country, with the North as its head, will rise to oppose this mischief.”
Responding for the President, his Special Adviser on Media , Dr. Reuben Abati, said: “It is not in any evidence in any way that the Belgore Committee, which the President set up to look at the previous outcomes of political conferences’ recommendations as to constitution amendment, has submitted any report anywhere.
“I am not aware of any report that has been submitted anywhere making any recommendations. We would expect that people who claim to be major stakeholders in the Nigerian project, when they make contributions, their contributions will show commonsense and decency.
“To comment on the report of the Belgore committee that has not been concluded and a report that has not yet been submitted will amount to witchcraft or, if you like, sorcery. It is therefore curious and entirely mischievous. As far as I know, the Belgore committee has not concluded its work.
“It also appears strange to me that a group of people, who would otherwise be described as distinguished Nigerians, would claim that the President is looking for a third term.
“ Every intelligent man in this country knows that President Jonathan is in his first term in office. So, how have they suddenly jumped from first term to third term? From the point of view of arithmetic, even their claim cannot stand. So, that claim is weak. It is unacceptable.
“If their concern is about the seven-year term tenure, President Jonathan has made it clear that his proposal is out of patriotic concern about the amount of wastefulness, greed, tension, conflict and the obsession that go into the search for second term.”
Dr. Junaid Mohammed said, last night, that northern leaders were consulting on their next line of action on the expected report of the Justice Alfa Belgore Committee.
He said litigation could not be ruled out as something has to be tested in court.
He also described the committee’s reversal to four-year tenure as a face-saving option after the seven-year single tenure proposal was defeated by members of the panel.
Mohammed, who spoke exclusively with our correspondent, said the North has nothing personal against President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said the leaders raised the alarm over a desperate attempt to elongate the tenure of the President because they owe living and unborn Nigerians a duty to make democracy work.
Mohammed said: “Let them go to hell. We know the role everybody is playing in this sinister third term agenda/renewed tenure elongation for the President.
“They are claiming that they have retained the four-year tenure but they forgot to tell Nigerians that the proposal was defeated by vigilant members of the Belgore Committee. They have also not spoken on moves still being made to sustain the agenda.
“The presidential spokesman has just said that the President is spending his first term in office. I am not surprised at the statement of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati. The statement was a total vindication of the shameless sham being perpetrated by Belgore Committee.
“So, we have been vindicated by that statement that a subtle political machination is going on somewhere.”

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