By Emeka Mamah, CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, DAPO AKINREFON, CHARLES KUMOLU & Chris Ochayi
Outrage, yesterday, greeted the proposal for a single term for the president and governors by the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, describing it as another form of tenure elongation.
Among those that spoke against the proposal were All Progressives Congress, APC; Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF; Afenifere; Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP; former Minister of Petroleum, Professor Tam David-West; civil right activist, Bamidele Aturu and the former Chairman of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Anambra State, Chief Guy Ikokwu.
They vowed to stop the proposal just like the third term issue of 2006.
Political stakeholders warned the National Assembly to step back from such a move, which CNPP described as a criminal subversion of the polity.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who is also chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, suggested tenure elongation as a panacea to the political tension in the polity, which he said arose from the crave for re-election by the president and governors, adding that it should start from 2017.
He, however, said the proposal was his own and not that of the committee or the Senate.
… like third term agenda
Commenting on the issue, Interim National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “He (Ekweremadu) cannot be serious. We said it that the national confab is a diversionary tactics by President Goodluck Jonathan to get power in 2015.
“Now we have been proven right. This project will suffer the same fate as Obasanjo’s third term agenda.
“PDP has been in power for 14 years, yet they cannot clean their Augean stable and now they want two years; after two years, they will ask for six years. It will not work, they must go in 2015.”
Looking to confab
Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said the proposed national conference will address the issue of tenure for political office holders.
Afenifere’s Publicity Secreta-ry, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, in telephone chat with Vanguard, urged the legislators to “leave us to go and address those issues at the national conference.
“We have grown beyond what they are going. They can no longer handle this matter because the matter has gone beyond them.
“What should be the focus now is for us to create an enabling environment for the national conference.”
‘Nigerians ‘ll fight’ Human rights crusader, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, in a telephone chat with Vanguard, said Nigerians will resist the idea being muted by the National Assembly.
Aturu said: “Nigerians will continue to resist tenure elongation under any guise and we will reject this one also.
“Nobody has a right to come and write the constitution for us in his own name or the way he likes.
“If Nigerians want tenure elongation, we will say it and not government functionaries or public office holders or elected officials.”
While describing the proposal to be in bad taste, ACF said a single term for executive office holders would encourage laziness in the political leadership.
Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani, ACF said: “The re-submission by the Deputy Senate President in favour of single term tenure for president and governors is in bad taste, precisely because the Senate has voted against it.
“You would recall that ACF has said such a provision would kill motivation and reward for hard work and performance since the good and the reckless presidents and governors would be in the same bracket.”
CNPP said it would amount to a criminal subversion of the polity and thus called for an investigation into the renewed call.
The conference said: “For us foisting the rejected seven-year single tenure through the back door of Doctrine of Necessity will be a grave disservice to our fatherland and portends more danger than the four year two-tenure.
“CNPP is of the candid view that Nigeria has witnessed general elections, as imperfect as they were in 2003, 2007 and 2011 and heaven did not fall.
“Therefore, Senator Ekweremadu, as a senior officer of the state, owe us a duty to explain why the 2015 general elections will end up in crisis.”
David-West vowed to make a judicial challenge to any attempt to incorporate single term into the constitution.
He said: “The National Assembly has no constitutional right to elongate the tenure of the President.
“What did the constitution say about it? Sometimes the lawmakers behave as if they don’t have proper understan-ding of constitutional stipula-tions. If they try it we will go to court to stop the move.”
Former Chairman of PDP in Anambra State, Chief Guy Ikokwu, said: “What the nation needs now is restructuring. Nobody knows whether we will have presidential or parlia-mentary system of government after the proposed national conference.”