Reps block pro­posed six-year sin­gle term for pres­i­dent, govs

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

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.

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