The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Monday rejected the proposed constitutional amendment by the Senate Constitution Review Committee that would provide for a single term of six years for the president and state governors.
In the same vein, the National Chairman of the United Peoples Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, Monday also dismissed the proposal for six-year single term for president and governors as a legislative fraud which must be rejected by Nigerians.
According to the Secretary of the NEF, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, “We in the north remain stoutly opposed to the proposal and will never support it because it is a double-edged sword that can make a tyrannical President to continuously oppress the defenceless citizenry without any remedy.
“Abdullahi stated: "If you have a bad president, who does not believe in the welfare and progress of the nation it means that the people would have no way of asking him to step aside until the end of gruesome six-year tenure.
“The people of the north are comfortable with the current provision of four-year renewable tenure based on performance and acceptance of the electorate so that a non-performing president can be voted out after the first tenure."
Abdullahi therefore, urged the lawmakers to discontinue the proposal, asking them to work on more beneficial laws to tackle rising corruption and security challenges in the country.
In his argument, Okorie said if the recommendation was allowed to see the light of the day, it would throw the nation into unimaginable confusion and chaos that could truncate the nation’s democracy.
Okorie, who spoke with journalists in Enugu, expressed dismay that members of the committee could come up with such recommendations, which he said, were completely at variance with the presidential system as practised in the United States of America from where Nigeria borrowed her system of government. He added that for those who have greatly benefited from democracy to come up with such report showed their desire to terminate the current civilian regime.
He said the recommendation was a fraud because it did not represent a majority opinion of Nigerians and the political parties that submitted memoranda to the committee.
According to him, the recommendation of the committee was a threat to other serious amendments like the electoral reforms and cause the entire exercise to be another monumental waste of public funds, time and energy, just like the Senator Ibrahim Mantu-led constitutional review committee, which he said, smuggled in the third term clause at the last minute to cause the baby and bath water to be thrown away.
“Secondly, if it is to be effective from 2015, it simply means there will be anarchy because there is nothing you will tell the entire South-south people that the scheme is not targeted at them. And they are still the custodians of the lifeline of Nigeria ’s economy. So, taking that kind of risk and hoping to declare state of emergency and get out of it in one year or so, is risk that is not worth it.
He said tenure debate was a major constitutional change that would require a referendum, because according to him, it would mean tampering with the presidential system of government opted for by Nigerians.
“… when previous constitutional review was almost concluded, was when Senator Ibrahim Mantu, did the same job that Ekweremadu is doing now, the third term thing was smuggled into the entire document and the brouhaha that the thing generated ended up throwing the baby with the bath water, and so there was nothing. All the money spent, the efforts, memoranda, public hearing in all the states of the federation came to nothing.
"Now there are major amend; electoral reform, all sorts of things expected from this exercise, this people have now introduced this very controversial aspect that will definitely throw the entire exercise out because Nigerians will not accept this fraud. So, let them just drop that thing now so that the rest of the things they have done can see the light of day,” he counselled.
“So the only answer is to have a credible election that will bring in people that will be accountable to the electorate, it does not matter whether it is two terms or one term,” he submitted.