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Reps propose rotational presidency, six-year single term

A bill seeking a single term of six years for the President and state governors was brought up on Monday by 35 members of the House of Representatives.

The bill also canvasses the rotation of the presidency among the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The 35 legislators, under the auspices of Reformed-minded Legislators, said the proposition would lead to a reduction in the cost of governance.

Addressing a press conference at the National Assembly Complex on Monday, the spokesman for the group, Ikenga Ugochinyere, added that the move would unite the country and ensure a seamless transition and unprecedented development for the country.

Ugochinyere emphasised the need to interrogate the challenges facing the Nigerian state, saying, “We should not be afraid to meet and discuss our problems, challenges, fears, aspirations, and prospects as a people. We should not discuss in fear and we should never fear to discuss.”

Speaking on the bill, Ugochinyere, who represents Ideato North/Idaeto South Federal Constituency of Imo State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, said, “On governance, we are proposing a constitutional alteration to provide for the rotation of executive powers among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equal representation and reduce the desperation and tempo of agitation for the creation of states. We are proposing to amend Section 3 of the constitution to provide for the recognition of the division of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones.

“And also, to amend the constitution to provide for a single tenure of six years for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the state governors. This will bring about a reduction in government spending and wastage; promote efficiency in governance, and national stability by providing a single term of six years for the President and the governors.”

The lawmakers drawn from different political parties are also seeking amendments to the constitution “to create the office of two Vice Presidents from the southern and northern parts of Nigeria.”

Ugochinyere explained that the First Vice President would be a succession vice president, while the Second Vice President would be a minister in charge of the economy, and both shall be ministers.

Ugochinyere said the 35 lawmakers were also pushing for a “constitutional amendment to provide that the President and the First Vice President shall come from the same part of the country (North or South) and the First Vice President shall become President whenever the President becomes incapacitated, that is, VP (succession), VP (Administration and Economy).”

The bill also seeks financial autonomy and accountability of local government councils by prescribing an independent Consolidated Local Government Council Account solely superintended by Local Councils. It prescribes long-term imprisonment for any misuse of local government funds.

“We are seeking an amendment to Section 162(5) of the 1999 Constitution to provide that where a state government fails to remit to the local government councils within its jurisdiction (or within the state), the amounts standing to the credit of that local government in the allocation from the Federation Account, such state government shall not be entitled to receive a future allocation from the Federal Government,” Ugochinyere added.

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On electoral reforms, the group proposed amendments to the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to ensure “that all elections (presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly, and local Governments) are held on the same day.”

Ugochinyere said, “We are pushing for amendments to relevant sections of the Electoral Act to provide that no declaration of a winner of an election shall be done by the relevant Independent National Electoral Commission officials until such officer has compared the results with the list of accredited voters and ensured that the results to be declared are in tandem with the list of accredited voters and the B-VAS machine or any other electronic device.

“Amend the Electoral Act to provide that any INEC officer who declares a false result will be liable for civil and criminal action personally brought against him by parties in the elections.

“An amendment to the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related litigations must be resolved and determined by the Elections Petitions Tribunal, Appeal Courts, etc before the winners are sworn into the respective elective offices.

“An amendment to the Electoral Act to make provision for the conduct and conclusion of all elections and election-related litigation within six months before the swearing into office of the validly elected person for the office contested.

“An amendment to the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related documents and materials must be made available to those who participated in elections and who have reasons to question/petition the elections at the elections tribunal,” he added.

In his contribution, one of the 35 lawmakers and members representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, Rivers State, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, said, “These laws requiring amendments are sick and require medications. We will not pretend not to have known the several agitations over time about where the Presidency should go. When it goes North, those in the South will begin to clamour and vice-versa. In most cases, people don’t get their turn because they just wish for it.

“If we cure this defect with this amendment, everybody will be guaranteed that sometime, you will have the opportunity and that will bond us the more.”

On his part, a member of the Labour Party representing Enugu-East/Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency, Enugu State, Paul Nnamchi, said elections held in one day will save the country the enormous cost of having polls held on different days.

“Every year, we embark on election reforms but we end up reforming nothing. We want elections to be held on the same day. A single tenure for President and governors will enable elected officials to be focused on legacy rather than the next election,” he said.

Another member of the group, Matthew Nwogu, representing Aboh Mbaise Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency, Imo State, said a single term of six years for elected officials will help keep their minds on governance.

He submitted that off-season elections should only arise if an elected official is either impeached or dies in office.

“Elections every four years is a waste of resources. If there is going to be off-season elections, it should be as a result of impeachment or death of an office holder,” he said.

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