In the last two weeks I have identified areas requiring amendments to the law to strengthen the electoral process and aid the election of transformational leaders. Specifically last week, I advocated an adoption of electronic means of transmission of election results by INEC to forestall the growing incidents of attacks on electoral officials and also changes to the law to mandate the determination of pre-election matters well before the conduct of the elections themselves. Two events have since further brought home the need for these changes. The first was the admission of INEC itself during the week that it has increasingly come under attack by hoodlums desirous of snatching or destroying results sheets so as to stop collation, while the second relates to two judgements delivered by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory and the Court of Appeal regarding validity of the nomination of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party at the gubernatorial election in Osun State. That issues touching on the nomination of the candidate are yet to be fully resolved, months after the conduct of the election is indeed worrying. This week I will discuss further specific areas that require attention if Nigeria is to elect transformational leaders. Full restructuring:
A necessity for the emergence of nation Nigeria
The founding fathers agreed on a true federalism in Lacanster House in London between 1950 and 1960 having taken into consideration the differences in culture, religion, philosophy of life, attitude to work, languages and so on. One who believes that his father is a fool would sooner than later regret his own foolishness. There is urgent need for total devolution of powers to enable each state or geo-political zone to effectively administer its resources and social political needs. The Federal Government should only be concerned with management of common political affairs like currency, foreign affairs, etc. There will be less crisis and quarrel or inordinate ambition to become President, Minister or Legislator. As a matter of fact, the late Sardauna found regional premiership more prestigious than being the Federal Prime Minister.
Qualification and remuneration for Political Officer holders
Political Offices in this country have been made too attractive, each state spends a huge percentage of government revenue on salaries and allowances. Yet there are 36 Houses of Assembly, two national Legislative Houses, array of Commissioners and Ministers. In addition, they maintain a large number of aides and assistants at public expense. There are also large number of Senior Special Assistants, Private Secretaries. There is also the First Lady and an array of assistants. At the local government level, we have the Chairmen and large number of officers. Politics in Nigeria today is viewed primarily as a business and not as a means of service to the nation. In the First Republic masterminded by Chief Awolowo, members of House of Assembly did not earn salaries but sitting allowances. More importantly, legislative business was part-time.
Furthermore, there has to be a change to the qualifications for seeking political office. Rather than have a minimum educational qualification of Senior Secondary School or WAEC, it should be a first degree with a minimum of second class lower. Such person must also be self- employed or have viable means of self sustenance prior to seeking political office. They must also have held positions of responsibilities. The position of local government councillors should be reserved for retired and much experienced people like teachers, professors, other professionals and clergymen, also on part-time, with payment of sitting allowances only.
The desirability of single six-year tenures for the office of the President and Governors
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) limits the period which any individual can serve as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to two terms of four years each.
It is not in dispute that the just concluded elections at the State and Federal levels generated immense interest and palpable tension in the country and consumed unimaginable amount of Naira and Dollar. Many governors right from the date of their swearing-in began planning for their re-election. As the period for selection of candidates by political parties as stipulated by the Electoral Act drew nearer activities in several states came to a halt as many state functionaries, including commissioners and ministers at the Federal level became engrossed with issues pertaining to the elections. Members of the National Assembly were at a point all busy in their respective constituencies scheming to retain the tickets of their parties forgetting their constitutional duties of law making. The result is that important matters which require attention are always left unattended to.
Thus ministers who should daily supervise the implementation of important government policies were busy running campaigns. As a matter of fact, contractors and judgment debtors, including millions of dollars due to my clients, were not paid even though payment had been approved by the Senate.
During his first media chat, former President Goodluck Jonathan proposed a single term of six years on the grounds that re-election activities cause a lot of unnecessary distraction. In his words: “Every four years you conduct elections, you create so much tension in the political environment. As we are talking, some people are busy holding meetings for the 2015 elections. It creates series of confusion in the political environment. I am not saying that single tenure, alone, will bring 100 per cent stability. There is no political system that is 100 per cent stable, you must have some tension. That was why I came up with that.”
Whilst the comments of the former President attracted a lot of debate with some attributing it to a desire for tenure elongation, events continue to show that there is a need for an urgent re-appraisal of the current two terms of four-year term for President and Governors of the states. I therefore believe that the two-term limits provided in the Constitution need urgent reappraisal. According to French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville: “The desire to be re-elected is the chief aim of the President; that the whole policy of his administration, and even his most indifferent measures, tend to this object.”
A single six-year term will certainly pave way for the emergence of transformational leadership. In Nigeria, the preparation for second term has made our election campaign a do-or-die affair with tragic consequence, including assaults and killings, burning of electoral materials, thuggery, malpractices, bribery and corruption etc.