By EMMA EMEOZOR with Agency Report
Barely two months after former president Olusegun Obasanjo said in a letter that President Goodluck Jonathan promised to serve one term, he has restated that the president actually vowed to do so. Speaking to Bloomberg News, a London-based tabloid, yesterday, Obasanjo said during the 2011 electioneering, Jonathan promised to serve one term.
“President Jonathan said, not only once, twice, publicly, not only in Nigeria, outside Nigeria, that he would have one term, and said that to me,” Obasanjo said.
In the interview, Obasanjo challenged Jonathan to be a man of his words while reminding the president of the implication of not keeping vows.
“One of the things that is very important in the life of any man or any person, is that he should be a man or person of his word,” Obasanjo said, adding: “If you decide your word should not be taken seriously that’s entirely up to you.”
In the report, Bloomberg News stated that its effort to reach Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Dr. Reuben Abati, proved abortive as his phones were switched off.
“Reuben Abati, Jonathan’s spokesman, could not be reached on his mobile phone for comment, as it was switched off,” Bloomberg News stated.
Ever since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for next year’s elections, there have been pressure on Jonathan to declare his intention, as to whether or not he would contest 2015 presidential election.
Though Jonathan has neither confirmed nor denied his rumoured ambition to contest the election, the issue has remained a thorn in the flesh of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a development that has given birth to pro-and anti-Jonathan groups.
The pro-Jonathan group insists that the president has the right to seek a second term and therefore, should be given the platform to contest the 2015 election. The anti-Jonathan group has consistently made reference to a supposedly 2011 promise made by Jonathan not to seek a second term, a claim the Presidency has repeatedly denied.
Obasanjo in a letter he wrote to Jonathan stated that the president told him he would seek one term in office. The letter read in part: “Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015. I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement. You said the same to one other person who shared his observation with me.
“And only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on. I must say that it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path. Although, you have not formally informed me one way or the other, it will be necessary to refresh your memory of what transpired in 2011. I had gone to Benue State for the marriage of one of my staff, Vitalis Ortese. Governor Suswam was my hospitable host.
“He told me that you had accepted a one-term Presidency to allow for ease of getting support across the board in the North. I decided to cross-check with you. You did not hesitate to confirm to me that you are a strong believer in a one-term of six years for the president and that by the time you have used the unexpired time of your predecessor and the four years of your first term, you would have almost used up to six years and you would not need any more term or time. Later, I heard from other sources including sources close to you that you made the same commitment elsewhere, hence my inclusion of it in my address at the finale of your campaign in 2011…”
But in its reply to the former president’s letter, President Jonathan said: “You quoted me as saying that I have not told anybody that I will seek another term in office in 2015. You and your ambitious acolytes within the party have clearly decided to act on your conclusion that ‘only a fool will believe that statement’ and embark on a virulent campaign to harass me out of an undeclared candidature for the 2015 presidential elections to pave the way for a successor anointed by you.
“You will recall that you serially advised me that we should refrain from discussing the 2015 general elections for now so as not to distract elected public officials from urgent task of governance. While you have apparently moved away from that position, I am still of the considered opinion that it would have been best for us to do all that is necessary to refrain from heating up the polity at this time.
“Accordingly, I have already informed Nigerians that I will only speak on whether or not I will seek a second term when it is time for such declarations. Your claims about discussions I had with you, Governor Gabriel Suswam and others are wrong, but in keeping with my declared stance, I will reserve further comments until the appropriate time.”