Some Nigerian lawmakers want six-year single term for president, governors; seek other constitutional amendments

A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives is championing bills to change the tenure of the president and governors to a single term of six years.

The group is also proposing the rotation of the presidency between the North and the South as well as the creation of a second vice president.

These proposals are part of six constitutional alteration bills introduced by the lawmakers on the floor of the House.

Briefing journalists at the National Assembly Complex on Monday, the lawmakers, who are also called “The Reformers”, said they have introduced the bills on the floor of the House.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Ikenga Ugochinyere (PDP, Imo), said the proposed alterations aim to address agitations from different parts of the country, reduce the cost of governance, and promote unity.

Mr Ugochinyere, who was flanked by seven other members of the group, said one of the proposed bills seeks to “amend the Constitution to create the office of two vice presidents from the southern and northern parts of Nigeria. The first vice president shall be a succession vice president, while the second vice president shall be a minister in charge of the economy, and both shall be ministers.”

In addition, the “first vice president” is to emerge from the same region as the president to ensure a smooth transition.

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One of the alterations seeks to amend “section 3 of the Constitution to provide for the recognition of the division of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones” and “to provide for the rotation of executive powers among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equal representation and reduce the desperation and tempo of agitation for the creation of states.”

Local Government Autonomy

The lawmakers are also seeking to provide more stringent laws enforcing the financial autonomy of the states.

They propose an alteration to prescribe an independent Consolidated Local Government Council Account solely superintendent by local councils and prescribing long-term imprisonment for any misuse of local government funds.

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In addition, they proposed an amendment to section 162(5) of the 1999 Constitution to provide that where a state government fails to remit to the local government councils within its jurisdiction (or within the state), the amounts standing to the credit of that local government in the allocation from the federation account, such state government shall not be entitled to receive a future allocation from the federal government.

Electoral Reforms

Speaking on the plans of the caucus, Mr Ugochinyere said the caucus has plans to sponsor 50 bills to reform the constitution, electoral laws, and justice reforms.

The lawmaker said the current political arrangement has some distortions, defects, and limitations that call for attention hence, this initiative on political and electoral reform.

“Our history as a nation shows very clearly that we have been through some difficult times. We have missed great opportunities,” he stated.

He added that the group seeks to amend the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to ensure that all elections (presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state houses of assembly, and local governments) are held on the same day.

The lawmaker said relevant sections of the Electoral Act would be amended “to provide that no declaration of a winner of an election shall be done by the relevant INEC officials until such officer has compared the results with the list of accredited voters and ensured that the results to be declared are in tandem with the list of accredited voters and the B-VAS machine or any other electronic device.”

Furthermore, the lawmakers seek to amend the Electoral Act to provide that any INEC officer who declares a false result will be liable for civil and criminal action personally brought against them by parties in the elections.

Mr Ugochinyere said the Electoral Act should be amended to provide that all election-related litigations must be resolved and determined by the Elections Petitions Tribunal, Appeal Courts, and others before the winners are sworn into the respective elective offices.

He added that “an amendment of the Electoral Act to make provision for the conduct and conclusion of all elections and election-related litigation within a period of six months before the swearing into office of the validly elected person for the office contested.”

Mr Ugochinyere stated that the amendment would provide that all election-related documents and materials must be made available to those who participated in elections and who have reasons to question/petition the elections at the Elections Tribunal.

The Reformers group said it has over 35 lawmakers as members. However, only eight of them were present at the briefing.

Some lawmakers who attended the briefing include Mathew Nwogu, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, Usaman Balami, and Kanja Abdulhamid.

However, one of the bills seen by PREMIUM TIMES is being sponsored by 15 members of the group.

They are Ikeagwuonu Ugochinyere, Abdullmaleek Danga, Aliyu Mustapha, Francis Waive, Zakari Dauda Nyampa, Abdulla Muhammed, Abiante Dagomie, Ghali Mustapha, Chinedu Emeka and Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo.

Others are Chinwe Maureen Gwacham, Boma Goodhead, Matthew Nwogu, Onobun Iziegbeaya and Obinna Aguocha.

READ ALSO: State creation, new minimum wage, other top stories from House of Reps

The bill is titled, “An act to amend the Electoral Act 2022 to provide for the hearing and determination of all election petitions by the respective election petitions tribunals and the appellate courts in accordance with specified timelines before the swearing-in of successful candidates at elections.”

The proposals by the group are yet to be debated on the floor of the parliament so it is difficult to determine how popular the views are. However, constitutional alterations require not only the support of both houses of the federal parliament but also a majority of the state parliaments across Nigeria’s 36 states.

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