Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has frowned at the heat in the Nigerian political landscape ahead of the 2019 general election and reiterated his call for a six-year single term for the president and governors.
Ekweremadu on his Facebook page @iamekweremadu titled: ‘Still on single term for President and Governors’, yesterday declared that “Nigeria’s political atmosphere is getting toxic ahead of the 2019 general election and governance is taking a backseat.
“Unfortunately, this atmosphere with the accompanying brazen political excesses, are unlikely to abate until well after the 2019 elections.”
He accused the executive arm of government of heating up the polity as evidenced in their desperation to return to office.
“Unable to resist the temptations that come with enormous power of incumbency, those who call the shots today throw everything within their reach into the mix in desperate efforts to retain power at all cost and by all means.”
Ekweremadu said the current political climate informed his position to support one- term of six years for both president and governors.
He added that “I strongly believe a single term of five or six years for president and governors, even if for a stipulated period as was the case with several Latin American democracies, is something Nigerians should revisit after the 2019 general election.”
According to him, this will substantially reduce the political tensions and executive excesses that come with self-succession, adding however that “although a renewable four-year term is popular, societies are dynamic and could make necessary constitutional adjustments to safeguard democracy and make periods leading up to elections less toxic.”
Going down memory lane, the deputy Senate president supported his view with what was obtainable in the United States and other political climes.
“For over 150 years, starting from George Washington up to Harry Truman, there was no term limit for presidents of the United States of America. In fact, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) served four terms (although he died just 11 weeks into his fourth term). It was the 22nd Amendment, which was ratified on February 27, 1951, that gave birth to two-term limit for US presidents.
“Moreover, in the 1970s, many Latin American democracies faced the same challenges we face in Nigeria today. As many of them transited from military and autocratic regimes to democratic regimes, and they discovered that the politics of succession, including incumbents; penchant for self-perpetuation, overheated their polities and threatened their democracies.
They adopted the single term presidency until such a time their respective democracies matured and stabilised. Although virtually all of them have reverted to two-term presidency, Mexico still practices single term presidency, called Sexino. She also retained the Sexino in the 2014 constitution amendment,” he explained.
“In Nigeria’s case, we proposed a single term for the president and governors with several transitional options during the constitution amendment exercise in the 7th National Assembly.
“Unfortunately, it was misunderstood by various political and sectional interests for various reasons and the proposal did not succeed.”