The House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a Bill seeking to amend the 1999 Constitution to accommodate a six-year single tenure for the President and governors in the future.
The Bill, sponsored by John Dyegh (APC, Benue), also seeks a six-year multiple tenure for federal and state legislators.
When the Bill was presented Tuesday for second reading, the House became rowdy as members started shouting “put the question, put the question” immediately Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase, who presided over the House, read out the Bill.
Some members saw the Bill as a third term ploy for the President.
Dyegh’s attempts to get his colleagues to support the second reading failed.
House Leader Peter Akpatason informed the House that the President had told the nation that he was not interested in another tenure, after his second, adding that the wishes of the President should be respected.
Sergius Oguns (PDP, Edo), who was the only supporters of the Bill, said it was meant to curtail huge spending on elections for second term.
He said: “If the Executive will be honest to tell us what they spend in search of second term, you will be shocked. The Bill wants to address that. When you don’t work for the people, your party will lose that state.”
Archibong Okon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said the House should be concerned about how to make the electoral process better.
Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau) said it was important for the House to gauge the mood of the nation before taking any step towards giving governors and the President a six-year single tenure.
Haruna Isa Dederi (APC, Kano) argued that after every four years, there is an opportunity for the electorate to appraise the performance of their elected leaders and decide whether to return them or not.
Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu also opposed the Bill.
After the debate, the House unanimously voted against it.
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar expressed displeasure at the speed with which the House yesterday rejected the six-year single term Bill
In a statement in Abuja by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, the former Vice-President said: “In view of the challenges facing our current democratic order, especially the culture of rigging that subverts the will of the people, a six-year single term would have ended such untoward practices in our electoral process.
“The desperation for second term by the incumbents is the main reason they go for broke and set the rules book on fire, thereby making free and fair elections impossible by legitimising 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.
“Six-year single term would remove such desperation and enable the incumbents concentrate on the job for which they were elected in the first place.
“Eight-year term of office rewards incompetence because even incumbents that have failed would use their access to public funds to return to power by fair or foul means.
“I don’t agree with the logic that eight years would give elected leaders better opportunity to fulfil their
campaign promises. An inherently incompetent incumbent will perform below average even if you give him/her 20 years in office or give him or her $20 billion dollars”.
According to him, it is not how long a man spends in office, but how well he is adequately prepared for the job.
He further argued that the desperation for second term is not necessarily driven by patriotism or the passion for service, but by the obsession with the greed for power for its own sake.
“Second term obsession rewards incompetence by allowing failed incumbents to be reelected regardless of their performance record. It also denies political parties the opportunity to replace failed incumbents with better candidates within the parties in the name of right of first refusal”.
The former Vice- President noted that the rejection of the six-year single term was a mistake because little attention was paid to its merits, adding that eight years tenure of four years each sacrifices merit because the incumbents are automatically entitled to re-election regardless of their performance records.