Reps block proposed six-year single term for president, govs
The house of Representatives on Tuesday voted against a bill seeking an amendment to the Constitution to make the President and state governors serve only one term of six years.
The bill also proposed that members of the National Assembly and state houses of Assembly will equally serve a six-year single tenure.
The bill, sponsored by Mr John Dyegh from Benue State, which was considered for second reading, was stood down by the lawmakers.
It was titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for a Single Term of Six Years for the President and Governors and a Six-year Term for Members of the National Assembly and States houses of Assembly.’
The 7th and 8th National Assembly had failed in their bid to institutionalise a single-term Presidency and governorship. The failed attempts were made in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
At the house on Tuesday, most of the lawmakers who debated the bill, spoke against it, while expressing their outright rejection of the proposal.
Earlier, Dyegh, while moving the motion, said, “In Nigeria, in most cases, our common sense of humanity, when lives matter, is lost during re-election. Lives are lost as a result of desperate struggle to remain in power for a second tenure. Limiting the term of office of a President or governor to a single, elongated tenure, therefore, offers a promising and long-term solution to the avoidable loss of lives and sources attributable to conflicts arising from reelection processes.
“You will agree with me that the present ‘four years plus four years’ tenure of eight years is not helping matters. It is taking us backwards. Practically speaking, the occupier of the seat spends only two years in the first tenure and in the remaining two, fighting for reelection, which, in Nigeria, is many times more expensive than the first election and mostly dependent on the lean resources of the state, allegedly.
“In the second tenure, he spends two and half years working, and the remaining one and half years preparing his exit/soft landing and installation of a successor. So, the total time spent for actual work for the state is not more than four and a half years out of the eight years.”
The sponsor stated that the six-year single term would make the President or governor to be more focused and dedicated, while the usual do-or-die battles for re-election would be eliminated.
“No lives will be lost, money will be saved and we shall experience better development,” he stressed.
Many lawmakers, however, said attention should be paid to electoral reforms to make votes count and elections less expensive.
All those who spoke, except Messrs Sergius Ogun and Sada Soli, rejected the bill.
Those who opposed it included Messrs henry Achibong, Yusuf Gagdi, Olumide Osoba, haruna Issa and Abdulrazak Namdas.
In his submission, the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, said, “While I am not speaking for or against the bill, I want to draw our attention to the fact that why we are having all these issues is because of immunity. We should remove the immunity clause for the governors and President. Let the immunity go, so that there will be accountability and the money meant for Nigerians will be duly spent as appropriated by the state houses of Assembly and the National Assembly.”
The acting Majority Leader, Peter Akpatason, also stated that, “I must speak against this bill because some people have alluded that the President is interested in tenure elongation. The reason why I’m not bothered about that is that, even Mr President clearly came out at the last meeting of the All Progressives Congress (National Executive Committee) that he was not interested in a third term. Because he is a man of integrity, I have every reason to believe that he means it and Nigerians should take him for his words.”
When the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the plenary, put the passage of the bill for second reading to voice vote, the lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against it.
Wase consequently ruled that the bill be stepped down.