Contrary to the positions of some people in the northern region, a group from the zone, Transformation Agenda Solidarity Forum, has said that President Goodluck Jonathan is free to contest the 2015 presidential election.
Leader of the forum, who is also a former chairman of the Federal Character Commission, Alhaji Muhammad Gwaska, who spoke with reporters in Abuja on Tuesday, said the constitution still allows the President to contest for another term.
Gwaska said it was erroneous for anyone to claim that because President Jonathan was sworn-in after the death of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and again after he won the 2011 election, he was already into his second term.
He said Jonathan had only contested the presidential election only once and was automatically qualified to run in 2015 if he so desires.
He said, “Let me tell you and let me tell every Nigerian that we have a constitution and we must respect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“What I know is that under the constitution of this country, a person who elected is president will serve the first tenure of four years and at the end of that if members of his political are willing they could still urge him to contest for another four years, and that is the second tenure.
“He will contest general election along with other candidates who are sponsored by other political parties.
“If at the end of the general election he emerges victorious then it means Nigerians have given him opportunity to finish his second tenure making it a period of eight years and that makes it conclusive.”
Gwaska added that “We want everybody to understand that in 2010 President Jonathan had to take over because of the death of his boss and under the constitution once the president dies the vice president takes over.”
He maintained that the debate over the eligibility of President Jonathan was unnecessary and stressed that taking over and completing the tenure of a deceased elected public office holder was not the same as a new mandate.
“The first time he (Jonathan) contested election on his own as Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was on the April 16, 2011 and he won the election. He got sworn in on May 29, 2011. So, from May 29, 2011 President Jonathan started his first tenure as President of Nigeria which means he is now qualified, I repeat, qualified if he wants to contest election in 2015.
“If the good people of Nigeria accept and vote for him, that will wind up his eight years as his own personal mandate from Nigerians,” he said.
On the issue of zoning, Alhaji Gwaska said that was the arrangements of the respective political parties and had nothing to do with the Nigerian constitution.