(NAN) Legal icon and elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN), said on Thursday that President Goodluck is not statute barred from re-contesting in the 2015 presidential elections.
Nwabueze stated the position when he led a group, The Patriots, to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to present a memorandum on transforming the nation to the President.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the memorandum presented by the group was a call on the President to convene a national conference that would chart a new constitution for the nation.
In an interview with State House correspondents after the presentation, Nwabueze said that the eligibility of President Jonathan to contest the 2015 polls was not in contest.
“Mr President is eligible, nobody is questioning his eligibility, the President is eligible and nothing makes him ineligible,’’ he said.
Nwabueze, however, advised President Jonathan to concentrate on his transformation agenda programme and not to be distracted by the 2015 politics.
“I still believe that the major problem of this country is national transformation and you cannot combine national transformation with contesting election.
“Once you get involved in the elections campaigns, you undermine your authority to lead the nation for national transformation.
“Like I had said before, if I were the President of Nigeria, I would restrict myself in serving the nation.
“I will restrict myself in transforming this country, in creating a new Nigeria. Creating a new society would be my concern.
“I would go down in history as a hero and if Mr President does that he would become a hero to this country.
“But it is for him to choose. But if I were him, I would choose to become a hero to lead the country into transformation,’’ he said.
Speaking on the memorandum presented to the President, the constitutional lawyer said that the nation was in dire need of transformation.
“The nation’s economy, the entire polity and the entire society would need to be transformed.
“We believe that the way to achieve that objective is through a National Conference, a National Conference of ethnic nationalities in this country.
“We have done our own research that we have in this country 389 ethnic nationalities.
“We need to bring these nationalities around a conference table to discuss.
“We will discuss how we are going to live together as one country in peace, in stability in security as one country with the aim of achieving national unity,’’ he said.
Nwabueze said that the position of the group is that the review of the 1999 Constitution being undertaken by the National Assembly was inadequate.
According to him, the country needs a constitution that truly derives its authority directly from the people.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, said President Jonathan welcomed the group’s position and the call for the moral re-orientation of Nigerians.
In a statement issued on the visit, Abati said the President declared that “his Administration has no objection to Nigerians coming together to discuss how they will continue to live together in peace and unity’’.
Abati said the President, however, contended that the request of the group on a new constitution was already being statutorily taken care of by the National Assembly.
“The limitation we have is that the constitution appears to have given that responsibility to the National Assembly.
“I have also been discussing the matter with the leadership of the National Assembly.
“We want a situation where everyone will key into the process and agree on the way forward,” President Jonathan was quoted as saying.
Abati said the President thanked The Patriots for acknowledging the Federal Government’s efforts to implement his administration’s agenda for national transformation.
The delegation included Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Solomon Asemota, Mr Chris Okoye, Chief (Mrs) Bola Kuforiji-Olubi, retired Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, Prof. Kimse Okoko and Mr Michael Orobator. (NAN)