Members of the National Assembly have vowed to resist any ploy by President Goodluck Jonathan to extend his tenure by six months on the pretext of insecurity.
There has been speculation since the February elections were shifted that the President is on the verge of sending a tenure extension proposal to the National Assembly, using the insecurity in the North-East as an excuse.
However, senators and members of the House of Representatives, in separate interviews with SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday, said the President should bury the rumoured plan.
On Tuesday, the spokesman of the All Progressives Congress in the Senate, Senator Femi Ojudu, had alleged at a forum that Jonathan had tried to get some members of the National Assembly to elongate his tenure, but that he had so far met a brick wall.
He reportedly spoke in Ibadan, Oyo State at a social discourse organised by the Afenifere Renewal Group, held in honour of a former Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi.
He had said, “President Jonathan has been begging us to allow him do two more years but the Yoruba must cry out and also be strategic in their call for change.
“We are resuming in the next one week and the President might likely bring the proposal for the election to be postponed for the next six months or one year.”
But in separate interviews with SUNDAY PUNCH, lawmakers across political parties called on President Jonathan to jettison the idea, if indeed there was such.
APC caucus leader and minority leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, dismissed the thought of tenure extension as “baseless and impossible.”
He told one of our correspondents that the idea of tenure extension was strange to him since there were no grounds for it.
“It will not pass; there will be no support for it. There is no point wasting time and energy on that issue,” he said.
The Deputy House Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, also argued that, tenure extension would not get popular support, and that Jonathan did not have such a plan.
The lawmaker from Delta State added, “Mr. President is running a campaign for his election. What does he need tenure extension for? Is he afraid of elections like the APC, who know they will lose?”
Another lawmaker from Plateau State, Mr. Bitrus Kaze, said members would oppose a tenure extension proposal because the mood of the nation was not prepared for it.
Kaze said, “The mood in the House of Representatives and even the nation right now will not support tenure extension; it will not fly.”
Similarly, a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance from Imo State, Mr. Eddie Mbadiwe, said any plan to extend the elections by six months would be dead on arrival.
“Nobody will table such a proposal and even if it comes, it will not pass. There is no way anybody will contemplate tenure extension,” he added.
On his part, the Chairman, Senate Committee on National Planning, Senator Barnabas Gemade (APC, Benue North East ), said, “As a democrat who has been the National Chairman of two major political parties in this country in the past, I can never support such an undemocratic arrangement few weeks to a general election that we have been preparing for as a nation for about four years.”
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, (PDP Ondo Central) described the alleged tenure elongation plot as “a fallacy, cheap blackmail and an unwarranted allegation to heat up the polity”
Akinyelure said, “Nobody would bring such bill to the National Assembly except if the person is an enemy of democracy.”
A senator from the South West geo-political zone told one of our correspondents in confidence that the plot was real because there were moves by some members of the red chamber to sell the idea to their colleagues before the current break.
He said, “I can confirm to you that the idea of tenure elongation was sold to some of us before we went on break.”
Other senators who corroborated this view, also on conditions of anonymity, noted the idea might come up when the chambers resume on Tuesday.
One of them said, “The real reasons why the election was shifted by six weeks was probably to perfect the tenure elongation saga by using the National Assembly members who would resume next week Tuesday, to execute the plot.”
The senators, however, vowed to resist any attempt to extend the tenure of the current administration beyond the May 29 handover date.
When contacted, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, said it was not true that the President planned to use the Senate to extend his tenure.
Efforts made to get the reaction of the Peoples Democratic Party were not successful. Calls made to its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, indicated that his telephone line was switched off.
Also, the call made to the party’s Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Olisa Metuh did not connect.