IN the midst of the determined confusions the Nigerian system serially throws up, it is easy to forget that the political reforms most people believe are inevitable if the country is to make progress, have been ignored.

These reforms range from simpler matters like the type of elections we should have, to the more complicated ones, especially the tenure of elected political office holders. We missed a chance to deal with this mater in 1999 after the military refused to adopt the proposal that former Vice President Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme forcefully put forward at the 1995 Constitutional Conference.

Dr. Ekwueme had suggested single five-year tenure for elected public office holders. The five-year tenure, it was reasoned would be enough for elected officials to execute their programmes.

More importantly, this suggestion was meant to tackle problems in the polity where elected officials spend their first term planning their second term, and exhaust their second term in planning their retirement. Nothing seems to sustain election rigging more than the fact that office holders have all the appurtenances of office at their disposal as they contest for another term.

The battle to serve a second term has become the only reason for everything done during the first term. The depth of party indiscipline, the fact that public office holders have unrestrained access to public funds, the patronage their offices disperse and the undemocratic nature of the political parties have combined to exclude other aspirants from offices once incumbents have interest in another term.

A strong argument for the one tenure option is that it would reduce the tension the fight for second term produces and help elected officials concentrate on serving the people. The one term option would be restricted to the executive arm of government while the legislative branch is permitted to serve unrestricted number of terms.

There is slight modification of the single term option. The office holder can again contest after 10 years, for a second and final tenure in that position. This arrangement gives the public an opportunity  to assess his programmes in his first tenure. It also means that he would have minimal chances of influencing the election of his successor, who would not be in office, when next the departing official decides to contest after 10 years.

Issues of this nature, if included in the proposed reforms would deal with godfathers, whose impact on politics is mostly negative. A single tenure could ensure that those elected would work hard to be relevant 10 years after leaving office.

These suggestions are intended to deal with the uniqueness of Nigerian politics and its numerous challenges that appear to defy solution. Unfortunately, they are ignored.

In 2011, the elections would add to the political burdens the Nigerian system bears. The National Assembly has no time to effect the required constitutional changes.

When a system runs  endlessly on reserve, the consequences are predictable – it is something worse than the failed state some already dub Nigeria.


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