Disquiet As Lawmakers Plan To End President, Governors’ Second Term

  • We need purposeful leadership – CUPP
  • It should be five years – Adewale, ADP chieftain
  • I'm in agreement with Bill – Arabambi
  • NANS kicks, vows to mobilize students for protest
  • This is road to massive graft – INC

The citizenry is sharply divided over the six-year Single Term Presidency and Governorship Bill is now before the House of Representatives.

The Bill, seeking a single term of six years for the president and state governors, was brought up, last Monday, by 35 members of the House of Representatives.

It also canvasses the rotation of the presidency among the six geopolitical zones of the country and the provision for a second vice president.

Speaking at the National Assembly Complex, the lawmakers, who are also called ‘The Reformers', said they have introduced the Bill among others on the floor of the House.

Ikenga Ugochinyere (PDP, Imo), a member of the group, said the proposed alterations aim to address agitations from different parts of the country, reduce the cost of governance and promote unity.

Should the Bill succeed as part of the current effort to review the Constitution, single tenure of six years for the president and governors will replace the current regime whereby the public office holders are entitled to two terms of four years each (eight years).

The Bill is generating anxiety in the House of Representatives as some members, when contacted by Sunday Vanguard, declined to speak, stating that it was a sensitive matter and would not want to comment on it yet.

Deputy Chairman of a Committee, who did not want to be quoted, said, “I am not a party to that Bill and whatever my position is will be said on the floor of the chamber”.

However, a cross-section of Nigerians is divided over the proposal.

While some opposed the Bill, saying it would worsen graft, some supported it and enumerated its merits.

For instance, the Conference of United Political Parties, CUPP, said the major problem of the country now is lack of purposeful leadership not tenure of political office holders.

It's a welcome devt – Pa Alake

Supporting the Bill, an octogenarian, Pa Dele Alake, said it would be a welcome development if passed into law.

His words: “The single term of six years will set the country on a more reliable foundation that will bring a lot of advantages. So, some of our leaders who are deadwood will have to vacate the seat when the six years lapses.

“But, it will create some confusion at the outset. For instance, which of the six zones will be the first? Is it going to be after the expiration of President Tinubu's first term or when?

“If it's after the first term, that means it will start from the Southern part of the country because it will be cheating if the South is not allowed completing its eight years. I'm sure the North will not allow it if they are the ones governing the country now.”

We need purposeful leadership – CUPP

CUPP spokesperson, High Chief Peter Ameh, said: “What we have now is good enough if we have purposeful leadership to drive it. “Even if we return to regional government today what we will have is the decentralization of corruption.

“What we should be looking at is putting in place appropriate sanctions for those who loot the treasury and deny citizens the basic necessities of life.

“No matter the system you have in place, if those who are to drive it lack sincerity, it will take us nowhere.”

It'll end marginalization — Arabambi

Dr. Abayomi Arabambi, National Publicity Secretary, Labour Party, LP, said he is in total agreement with the proposed bill, saying that it will reduce the pressure of infighting for second term, which leads our political office holders to steal money to prosecute their second term project.

“If the bill was passed into law, it will make the President and the governors to work and make the masses feel their impact because they knew that there no room for second term.

“The opportunity of second term leads to abandoned projects, because they use the uncompleted projects to campaign for second term election.

“The rotational arrangement will give some of the geopolitical zones in the country, who have not had the opportunity of ruling the country, the opportunity and grace to produce the president.

“The same goes for state governors. It will be rotated among the three senatorial districts in the state. In a nutshell, it will put a stop to marginalization in government.”

It's misplaced priority – HURIWA

National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said: “Such a bill is a misplacement of priority. What we need now is equity and the National Assembly needs to pay attention to this. We have more serious issues such as insecurity and our dwindling economy.

“On the issue of equity one more state should be created for the South-East. It is becoming increasingly worrisome that each time the issue of constitutional amendment comes up, tenure of political office holders comes up.

“The constitution should be used for a substantial period of time before any amendment is carried out. This ritual of amending the constitution every four years is not taking us anywhere.”

It should be five years – Adewale, ADP chieftain

However, former Ondo State Chairman of the ADP, Hon Stephen Adewale, hailed the move.

His words: “I think it's a positive development. Experience since 1999 has proven that our elected representatives always have two years to serve the people before spending the other two years planning for re-election. Those who have been re-elected, since they have no office to run for, spend their second term on frivolities.

A single term will undoubtedly make politicians serve the people and the country better but there is a caveat. What will a single six-year term accomplish? Why six years instead of five? I believe five years is much better and more reasonable.

Consider our university system; at one point, the Federal Government felt that politicking was ruining it. As a result, the tenure of Vice Chancellors was restricted to a single term of five years, which restored some sanity to the university system. If properly planned and implemented, a single five-year term could be the tonic our political system needs.

We need diligent leadership, not single tenure — Peretei

To the Publicity Secretary of Ondo State People's Democratic Party, PDP, Hon Kennedy Peretei, “it is not the tenure that is the problem but a sense of duty, diligence and accountability that are the main issues. Whether a single six-year tenure or two terms of four years each, a thief will still be a thief.”

We need creative solutions to our peculiar challenges – Varsity don

Also speaking, Professor Olugbenga Oke-Samuel, Dean Faculty of Law, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, said: “As it is now, I believe we need to look inward towards getting local and creative solutions to our problems. Since the existing arrangement is not working, the solution lies in designing a unique model that will address our peculiar and unique problems.

A public servant, trader's perspective
A trader at Bodija International Market, Mrs Titilola Ojulangbe said the term the leaders spend is not the issue but governing well.

“If it is changed to six years, who are the crop of leaders that will be in the saddle? If they govern well, their six-year term will be like a year. But if they don't govern well, those six years will be like a decade. Whoever is there should try to bring down prices of commodities and fuel,” she said.
Also, Mrs Ajayi Modupe, a public servant in one of the South-West states reasoned that the move will automatically check the excesses of our leaders who spend eight years in office.

Her words: “I fully support the six year single term for both governors and President. Whatever they have to offer the country, let them do it within six years and take their leave.”

It'll ensure harmony – Oke

A legal practitioner, Ayobami Oke, said given the heterogeneous nature of the country, it will be fair to the ethnic groups particularly when the Vice president comes from another region. “All ethnic groups, if it's followed to the letter, will have a sense of belonging.

Yoruba group backs bill

Otunba Tayo Onayemi, Convener, Yoruba Commitment Forum, YCF, said it would be a welcome development if passed into law “because it will curb the ‘do-or-die' affair and over-ambition for second term by our political office holders.”

He continued: “It makes sense to me and it will serve our purpose because the single term will curb some excesses, put paid to over ambition with reckless abandon.

“In fact, the Senate ought to be scrapped because of the repetitive responsibilities of the two chambers of the National Assembly and their overlapping functions.

“The other alternative to scrapping the Senate is to reduce the pecuniary attachment/benefits of the National Assembly members to sitting allowances only.

“The aspect of Constituency allowances should also be abrogated and given to the Local Governments.

“In other words, Local Governments should be more empowered but the single term of six years should apply to all elected officials from the local government to the Presidency.”

NANS kick against bill

On its part, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, kicked against the bill, describing it as “anti-democracy and an attempt to stifle people's choice.”

Speaking on behalf of NANS in Abeokuta, the National Clerk of the Senate of NANS, Yekini Adewale, described the bill as “a smokescreen” to divert the attention of Nigerians from the current economic pains and agonies that Nigerians are facing.

The apex student body threatened to mobilise students across the country in a protest against the bill.

According to Adewale, if the bill is passed into law it would erode accountability, probity, transparency and responsibility on the part of political leaders.

“Yes, democracy thrives on the pedestal of a synergy between the three arms of government, but when a key arm such as the legislature, proposes bills and peradventure, passes laws that stifle people's choices or throw spanners in the wheel of the tenets of democracy, then, it is disheartening and must not be allowed.

“NANS as a non-governmental organisation and the only pressure group that has been agitating for the continued survival and sustainability of our hard-earned democracy from being truncated, does not only condemn the proposed bills, but call on Nigerians to move against such step aimed at achieving a selfish agenda by some unscrupulous politicians.

“If the proposed bills are allowed to see the light of the day, then, our democracy is in total jeopardy. Any president or governor who realises that he cannot seek a second term in office, may rather busy himself with feathering his own nest instead of delivering good governance to the electorate.

“Expunging second term from our constitution is synonymous to extinguishing the only power the electorate have to vote out any non-performing president or governor.

“As a student body in the country, we shall mobilise our members massively against these bills seeking to efface accountability, probity, transparency and responsibility from the elected executives and lawmakers.

“To further demonstrate our rejection of this anti-democracy, anti-people and anti-progress bills, a day will be set aside for Nigerian students to embark on a mass march against the National Assembly.”

Bill is in masses' interest – Osun CDHR

However, the Osun CDHR Chairman, Olowu Emmanuel, said: “The proposed six years single term is in the interest of the masses, as Nigerians have been at the receiving end of politicians since 1999.

“The urge for a second term in office leads to the commercialisation of our elections, hence, the weaponisation of poverty. Other lawmakers should align with the group of 35 legislatots to ensure that the constitution scales through amendment with the provision inserted therein,” he said.

Bill good but… – Ogunsuyi

Former Osun State Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Lanre Ogunsuyi, said the idea of single term of six years was not strange but wondered whether the idea could solve the challenges facing the nation, adding that the process through which leaders emerge has to be re-examined.

According to him: “It is not the first time that idea about single term for the executive has been muted. Nigeria's political problems are hydra-headed, we don't know which of the problems it is meant to resolve. Having said that we have seen governors who have been charged before the anti-graft agencies for stealing humongous amount of money within 12 months, we have seen ministers who have stolen billions within four months in office.

“It is not about single term or not. Sometimes I tell people that we are looking at the product , we are not looking at the process. Maybe what is wrong is the process.”

Single term will encourage massive looting – INC

The Igbo National Council, INC, opposed the bill, saying a single term of six years for the President and governors would encourage massive looting in office.

The INC, President Chilos Godsent, who stated this to newsmen in Owerri, said: “The INC Condemns that proposal in its entirety as it will encourage massive corruption in the governance system in Nigeria.

Against this backdrop, we would like the National Assembly to amend the constitution to provide for the Presidential election to hold separately, the Governor to hold separately in different dates with the elections of legislators as this will encourage healthy competition and reduce rigging.”

“On the foregoing, INC therefore call on the National Assembly to use the opportunity of the ongoing Constitution Amendment to expunge the Immunity Clause for the office of the President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor,”he concluded.

Corruption is the problem not single or second term -Diwe, ASITU President

Also, National President of the Association of Igbo Town Unions, ASITU, Chief Emeka Diwe, said the problem of Nigeria's democracy is not single or second term in office but corruption and lack of integrity among public office holders.

He stated that only the election of candidates with integrity would help solve the craze for second term in Nigeria's polity and called for non performing leaders to be denied second terms in office.

Diwe told Sunday Vanguard that a public office holder can use a single term to make positive impact in governance, stressing that nobody has been able to equal the sterling performance of the former governor of old Imo State, Dr. Sam Mbakwe, in the four years he spent as Governor.

He explained that the craze for second term has made public office holders to seek ways to embezzle public funds to enable them foot the high cost of electioneering in the country.

Last updated on July 10th, 2024 at 11:57 pm

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