Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The House of Representatives Thursday passed the first reading of a bill initiated by 22 members seeking to return Nigeria to parliamentary system of government.
A group of bi-partisan lawmakers, numbering 22, who are members of the lower chambers of the National Assembly, addressed journalists yesterday in the House of Representatives Press Centre, and said the presidential system of government had become too costly, and was not giving Nigerians the best type of leadership.
The lawmakers, who said they were already 71 in number, said they were collecting more signatures, saying they were sure to get the mandatory two-third majority needed to facilitate a constitution amendment that would see Nigeria return to parliamentary system of government.
Presenting their case to House of Representatives correspondents, Hon. Nicholas Osai (Delta, PDP), said the aim was to bring about better fusion of government and foster harmony between the executive and the legislature.
According to him, “Our position in this legislation clearly point to compelling advantages of parliamentary systems of government to economic growth and development as well as its inherent efficiency in the conduct of government businesses.
“Studies have shown that countries run by presidential regimes consistently produce; lower output growth, higher and more volatile inflation and greater income inequality relative to those under parliamentary ones.”
He noted, “Little wonder the rich continue to be richer while the poor get poorer and we have become the poverty capital of the world.”
He said the presidential system was responsible for slow passage of legislation, high unemployment, political and economic instability.
According to him, “There are countless empirical records, which show that output growth under presidential regimes is in zero points (negative) while output growth under parliamentary systems clocks from one point and above (positive).
“In countries run by presidential systems inflation is on average six per cent point higher than those under parliamentary regimes. Income inequalities under presidential systems are worse when compared with that of parliamentary or hybrid systems of government.
“Presidential regimes consistently produce less favourable macroeconomic outcomes, which prevail in a wide range of circumstances (the Nigerian example).
“Due to the excessive powers domiciled to one man under the presidential systems, consensus building that is often required for economic decision is always lacking. Economies of nations are known to thrive on the confidence of investors to the system and character of the government.
“The level of instability and volatility of presidential systems makes it difficult to achieve these economic objectives. The over centralisation of government decisions that are prevalent in presidential systems obstructs economic development when compared to the parliamentary or hybrid systems.”
Stating that these anomalies were witnessed in Nigeria in 2015 and are currently being experienced as Nigeria prepares for 2019 elections, Osai stated, “Such volatility is evidenced by sharper electoral cycles under presidential regimes than that of parliamentary systems as presidential regimes are often not conducive to consensus building which is known to have favourable effects on the economy.”
Arguing that parliamentary systems will bring about quicker passage of economic bills due to the fusion of power that it embodies, he said, “The decentralisation of powers in parliamentary systems help to douse tensions in countries (like Nigeria) where ethnicity, race, religious differences and ideological divisions are prevalent thereby promoting peace and unity which are ingredients for economic growth and development.”