The House of Representatives has rejected a bill seeking to alter the tenure of presidents, governors, state and federal lawmakers, and other public officials to a six-year single term.
Currently, such elected public officials hold office for four years unless they win re-election. The president, governors and their deputies can, however, serve only a maximum two terms in office.
The bill, sponsored by John Dyegh (APC, Benue), was due for the second reading when the majority of the lawmakers kicked against it on Tuesday.
Haruna Bello (APC, Kano) while speaking on the bill said it could be easily interpreted as a suspicious move to extend the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“By the time you allow the room for six years, you will shut down the door for appraisal of someone’s term after four years. We should maintain our four years,” he said.
On his part, Yusuf Gagdi, who represents the Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency of Plateau State, argued that nothing is wrong with the current system of two four-year terms for the president and governors.
“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.
“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.”
Also, Henry Archibong (PDP, Akwa Ibom) called for a rejection of the bill and that focus should be on improving the country’s electoral process.
“How can we make electoral processes and elections credible and less expensive?” he asked. “This is the issue we ought to address and not the number of terms.”
However, a few lawmakers, including Sergius Ogun of Edo State’s Esan North-East/South-East Federal Constituency, saw it in a different light. He said passing the bill would save the country funds used to conduct elections at the expiration of every four-year tenure.
After the debate, Idris Wase, the Deputy Speaker of the House, who presided over the plenary, put the bill to a voice vote. More voices rejected the bill.
In his reaction to the rejected bill, a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, said he disagrees with the stance of the lawmakers.
According to Mr Abubakar, “in view of the challenges facing our current democratic order, especially the culture of rigging that subverts the will of the people, six-year single term would have ended such untoward practices in our electoral process.”
He explained that “the desperation for second term by the incumbents is the main reason why they go for broke and set the rule book on fire, thereby making free and fair elections impossible by legitimizing rigging at the expense of their challengers that have no access to public funds.”
“A situation where the incumbents deploy more public resources to their second term projects than using the funds for people’s welfare encourages massive rigging that undermines electoral integrity,” he said.