Nigeria: Jonathan seeks end to post-election litigations, believes PDP will bounce back
WorldStage Newsonline-- Former President Goodluck Jonathan has received a report of the National Reconciliation Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by its Chairman, Governor Seriake Dickson and called on politicians and their supporters to stop dragging their victorious opponents to court after elections.
Jonathan, who described the culture of post-electoral litigations in the country, said it amounted to surrendering the power of the electorate to choose their leaders in a democracy to a few judges.
Receiving the report at his Otuoke hometown, Ogbia, Bayelsa State, Jonathan said that going to court after losing a genuine election was an aberration and that the trend of litigation in the country was not just a distraction to an elected leader but also an affront to the immunity clause inserted in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Jonathan acknowledged that litigations had become a ready option in the country because politicians and their supporters liked manipulating the electoral process.
He said: "I also want to use this opportunity to advise Nigerians, politicians and the ordinary voters to stop this idea of surrendering their powers to court. We should reduce it because the essence of voting is for you to decide who leads you through the ballot paper.
"What is happening in Nigeria is anomalous because the constitution gives immunity to governor, deputy governor, President and Vice-President because when you are sitting there you are supposed not to be distracted. But here sometimes the governor is facing litigations running into a year plus. I asked my colleague in South Africa, how they were handling such matter.
"But the culture in Nigeria now is that after the voting, you surrender your mandate to few judges to decide and that is very anomalous in Nigeria.
"When I was the Vice-President, the female deputy President of South Africa came and as at that time there was a debate on whether the court should be given a specific time to quickly finish litigations so that by the time a governor is inaugurated he would no longer sit in office and start going to court.
"She was a bit surprise and demanded to know why somebody should go to court after losing an election. So she told me that in South Africa, nobody goes to court after an election. The electorate decide who wins an election.
"But here in Nigeria we surrender that power to the court because we politicians and our people manipulate the process of an election and if you manipulate the process somebody has to go to court to challenge you.
"I am praying that one day Nigerians we take that power of deciding who wins an election and at the end oil the election, anybody who wins the election genuinely, nobody will bother going to court."
On the role of the judiciary, he said: "But my vote should count. If a judicial panel upturns my vote, I won't be happy. I am calling on Nigerians especially the young people that we must remodel our country.
"What is happening now in our political environment s very abnormal. Let's not think it is the right thing. It is not the right thing at all. Not to talk about party positions.
"It is very abnormal for parties to go to court because the court is supposed to to have anything to do with political activity. But now we are playing into their hands. Will the court now decide who will be the chairman of the PDP or who should be the secretary. It is sad."
Throwing his weight behind the option of a political solution to the crisis in PDP, the former President commended the Governor Dickson-led committee for presenting its findings to key stakeholders in he party.
He said the presentations would enable the stakeholders to make inputs and fashion out lasting solutions to the PDP impasse.
But he assured members of the PDP that the party would bounce back stronger in 2019 for the national elections.
He said: "I always believe that party differences no matter what are like family squabbles and that the best option is to resolve it outside the court. In most cases, once relations go to court, they don't come out smiling. Even if somebody wins, that family is divided. It will take them a very long time to come together.
"But if they are able to resolve it outside the court, that very day you will see them embracing themselves and smiling. I always believe that party disputes should take that approach.
"Issues of litigations should be at the extreme when you cannot resolve your disputes. Unfortunately for us this matter has entered the court and passed through the High Court and Appeal Court.
"But one thing I have to reassure PDP members all over the world is that the PDP will come up strong. We are talking among ourselves so people should not be worried. PDP will come out of the present impasse to become stronger."
Also speaking, the Chairman of the committee and Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, said he and the people of Bayelsa would not let the PDP die.
He said: "Today is actually symbolic because the PDP is coming home. Bayelsa with all that you did still remains the base of PDP in Nigeria. For those who sometimes may be tempted to ask, 'why is governor Dickson pursuing this peace process the way he is doing?
"Let me say that we are doing so because in Bayelsa we believe that the PDP has been very good to us. The PDP has done for our people what no other party has done for our people. In Bayelsa, we stand by PDP.
"Even in this trying times,we have resolved to do whatever that is humanly possible to bring peace and stability and to be in the vanguard of the revival and restoration of the PDP."