OrderPaperToday– A bill seeking to amend the Nigerian Constitution to provide for a single 6 year tenure for president, governors and legislators has failed to scale second reading in the House of Representatives.
The 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 six year term for members of the National Assembly and States Houses of Assembly and for related matters was sponsored by Mr. John Dyegh (APC, Benue).
Majority of the members opposed the bill for varied reasons, leading to a nay vote when the question was put for passage.
Debating the bill, most members kicked against the amendment, arguing that there is nothing wrong with the system Nigeria currently operates.
They added that if Electoral Laws were implemented to the letter and lacunas addressed, the 4-year tenure would be enough to make any desired impact the amendment seeks.
Nonetheless, a few lawmakers, including Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo) and Peter Akpatason (APC, Edo) argued it would save the country the funds used to conduct elections after the initial four-year tenure.
“This bill intends to also save the money being spent in elections for second term. It will save this country and our democracy. For me, going to the polls every four years is waste of our meagre resources, ” Ogun said.
Henry Archibong (APC, Akwa Ibom) said the focus should be on improving Nigeria’s electoral process and not on the number of terms an elected official stays in office.
“How can we make electoral processes and elections credible and less expensive? This is the issue we ought to address and not the number of terms.”
Another member from Plateau State, Mr. Yusuf Gagdi (APC), concurred with him, saying there is nothing wrong with current system of four-year tenure with a limit of two tenures for the executive.
He added that in an ideal democracy, “you cannot ask the president to perform a six year tenure and expect a good performance.”
“Our problem is our inability to respect our rules. Our democracy does not need six year single term for the executive,” he said, adding, “What it needs it to maintain what is in place for the executive and National Assembly. What we need is to improve our elections and ensure we have a system that will not fail Nigerians.
“It is not the time to say we will amend the tenure of the executive and the National Assembly members.”
Haruna Bello (Kano, APC), also kicked against the bill, saying it will fuel the speculation of tenure extension for President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a heated debate that threw the House into rowdiness, Mr. Dyegh dismissed insinuations of tenure elongation for President Buhari, while maintaining that the Bill was targeted at cutting down cost of elections and nothing more.
“I’m not seeking tenure elongation for President Mohammadu Buhari as has been insinuated but rather, this amendment is for election in 2023. Let us consider the amount of money we use in conducting elections every four years. However, if it is the mood of the House that this matter should be stepped down, then so be it.”
When the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase called for a vote on passage of the bill, majority of the members unanimously said “nay”.