2023: DR. GOODLUCK JONATHAN NOT QUALIFIED TO CONTEST By Law Mefor

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A  political thinker posited that politics is a concentric circle of  conspiracies. It is such a conspiratorial game that while statesmen  worry about development to cater for the present and coming generations,  politicians are busy scheming how to retain power, return  to power, or  gain power.
Nigerian politicians could pass as the worst hue to be  found anywhere. They bend the rules and violate the laws with impunity  just to attain this stated private objective.
For  about a year now, the name of the former President of Nigeria, Dr.  Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has been popping up here and there whenever the  successor of the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, is being  discussed. Some say it is in the best interest of the North to hand  power back to Jonathan and take it back in 4 years in line with  principle of rotation of presidential power  ruling the current  democratic dispensation.
This  argument is tenable since Jonathan is statutorily barred from  contesting more than one term if he becomes the President of Nigeria in  2023. Some also say that the push for the return of Jonathan is to put a  wedge to the aspiration of the South East to produce the nation’s next  President. The proponents of this school of thought believe the  Hausa-Fulani who hold the aces now are still weary of supporting an Igbo  man to become the President of Nigerian. The reason often given is just  the civil war and the issues that led to it, and the lingering  bitterness and unpreparedness to forgive and let go on both sides.
The  poppers of Jonathan in this regard think the former President should be  able to take the wind off the sail of the South East agitation for the  office of the President, and get the zone to join his Presidency one  more time instead and dump their aspiration even if it means doing so  grudgingly.
For a fact,  South East was the backbone of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency and  supported his re-election with over 85% of their votes in the 2015  Presidential Election and has continued to suffer marginalization and  exclusion as a consequence and got branded 5% voters of the Buhari  Presidency. The calculation of those angling for the return of Jonathan  is that it is only him that can pull the rug off the feet of the push  for Nigerian President of South East extraction and offer the Igbo man a  sort of dream deferred.
This  permutation aims to kill two birds with one stone: stopping the South  East and getting power to stay in the South in this season for just one  term. It would have been a masterstroke were it not for the eligibility  question hanging over Goodluck Jonathan in contesting the 2023  Presidential Election.
Apart  from the morality of becoming the major obstacle to the South East  aspiration (ordinarily, the South East is counting on the solid support  of the South South which they gave their all) there are serious legal  issues surrounding the qualification or rather the eligibility of  Jonathan to contest the office of the President. (He is however  qualified to contest for any other office in the land, ranging from  Councilor to Vice President.)
The  law in question is: “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of  Nigeria (4th Alteration No 16) Act, 2017)”. This new constitutional  amendment may have been contemplated following the rancor occasioned by  the same Jonathan contesting the 2015 Presidential Election. Recall that  the Northern segment of the country believed Jonathan was not qualified  based on rotation of presidential power between North and South Nigeria  and power ought to have shifted North in that season. There was also a  gentlemanly agreement, which was reached with him (Jonathan) to go for  only one term before he contested the 2011 Presidential Election. He  reneged to inspire a groundswell of the behemoth opposition – the APC – that swept him from power.
In  law, express mention of one thing is said to be an express exclusion of  another. The constitutional amendment assented to by President  Muhammadu Buhari on 4th June, 2018, does not permit former President  Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to contest in 2023 unless repealed. The extant  section barring Jonathan states in its explanatory note…”The act alters  the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to disqualify a  person who was sworn in as President or Governor to complete the term  of an elected President or Governor from being elected to the same  office for more than a single term.”
To  give effect to the disqualification of any person who has been sworn-in  to complete the term of a President or a Governor from contesting more  than one term, sections 137 and 182 of the 1999 Constitution were  amended to ensure same.
Then  the question: is Dr. Goodluck Jonathan qualified to contest the 2023  Presidential Election? Where does this leave off Jonathan in view of his  speculated return in 2023?  Going by the express provisions of the said  amendment on tenure, Jonathan is not qualified unless this extant law,  which is now deemed a constitutional provision, is repealed and set  aside.
In the light of  this constitutional provision barring Dr. Goodluck Jonathan from  contesting in 2023, those prompting him to throw his hat into the ring  are either ignorant of this law or are being mischievous. Yes,  mischievous in the sense that they would want to ridicule the statesman  and cause bad blood between the South East and the South South whose  relationship has been waxing cozy since the present dispensation.
In  the light of this too, Dr. Jonathan should be advised to be guided by  the quoted law and distance himself from the whispering clamor for his  return in 2023. As alluring as it may appear, he should know that those  who spearheaded that new law are the same vanguard now asking him to  contest.
As a patriot and  statesman who handed over power when he had reasons not to, rightly or  wrongly, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan should help the rotation of presidential  power to the South East. He ought to be in the vanguard for Nigerian  President of South East extraction in reciprocation of their unalloyed  support for the Jonathan Presidency. Even yours sincerely is a  Jonathanian and was in the trenches for him in 2015. One good turn, they  say, deserves another.
· Dr. Law Mefor, a Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist, writes from Abuja. Tel.: +234- 905 642 4375 E-mail: drlawmefor@gmail.com; follow me on tweeter:@LawMefor1

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