Single-term proposal faces opposition from Northern groups, ACN

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The proposal by the Senate Committee on Constitution Review for a single term of six years for the president, vice-president and governors has been rejected by the northern socio-political organization, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and opposition parties, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)

In their separate reactions made known on Thursday, the ACF said the proposal, if eventually passed, would be counter-productive while the ACN and CPC said the opposition parties would not support such a move.

Earlier this week, media reports came out that the Senate committee led by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had arrived at this proposal after their weekend retreat in Lagos.

However, the proposal, if it becomes law, bars President Goodluck Jonathan and incumbent governors from benefiting from it.

ACF, in a statement on Thursday signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Anthony Sani, argued that the system would encourage looting of public treasury by its beneficiaries as no system of management devoid of incentives, motivation and reward could be managed for performance.

The statement read, “In the single tenure, the only available incentive and motivation is pillage of public funds that goes with unbridled access to public funds by the leaders in our clime, which is counter-productive.

“It is counter-productive because it cannot further the cause of good governance that comes with purposeful leadership, especially when regard is paid to the fact that it lacks the basic elements of motivation and incentives needed in any management of human affairs.

“In the single tenure system, there are no incentives, motivation and reward for excellent performance. And this is because the good, the not-so-good and the reckless are grouped together without any distinction. Such practice cannot deliver on good management.”

ACF noted that most countries in the world practice multiple tenure systems, as it enables leaders to aspire for excellence in the hope of reward by way of their re-election.

Sanigave examples of few countries, like the United States of America, which put limitation to their multiple tenure system, saying they deliberately did so to allow fresh hands into leadership and governance.

He explained that such arrangements allowed motivation and incentives that inspired excellent performance and for fresh blood into governance in multiple tenures.

“As to the fear of abuse of incumbency prevalent in our clime, it is to be noted that countries devise their own ways of curtailing such abuses,” he noted.

He gave the example of Chile, which had multiple tenure that is not consecutive.

“That is to say, no candidate is allowed to conduct elections in which he is a candidate,” he said.

On the part of the ACN and CPC, thet argued that the problem of Nigeria’s political system was not the issue of tenure because there was nothing wrong with the current tenure of two four-year terms.

National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “The position of my party remains the same. It is four years two terms. No matter what they are saying, this is our position.”

His counterpart in the CPC, Mr. RotimiFashakin, said, “The Senate has not been able to advance a reasonable argument to support this proposal.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the tenure system that we have- a maximum of two terms of four years each.

“But it is unfortunate that in Nigeria, when we seem to be having  issues with our own method of practising democracy, we now start to blame the system.

“The major problem within Nigeria is corruption. It is corruption that breeds other forms of corruption that eventually affect our practice of democracy. Corruption breeds electoral corruption.

He offered a way forward, saying, “If the Senate wants to help us, they should help us in ensuring that electronic voting is entrenched in our constitution it is then that we will have real stability in our polity.

“With electronic voting, we are able to remove the entire multi-layer structure of our electoral system.”

Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, said the proposal would pass through the legislative process before it would become law.

He said, “But even if it is passed, it will not have a retrospective effect on the current public office holders, because their mandate with Nigerians, which is four years, cannot be extended to six years. The maximum term of office is eight years.

“Under the current political dispensation, nobody who would have spent four years after 2015 can have another bite at the cherry.

“It has very serious implication that has to be fully brought out to those who are serving now.  But it can never be a substitute for tenure elongation. It cannot have a retrospective effect.”

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