Breaking: 60 Reps Introduce Bill to Return Nigeria to Parliamentary System of Govt by 2031

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

60 members of the House of Representatives have introduced three bills, seeking to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to transition from the current presidential system to parliamentary system at all levels – federal, state and local government.

The bills, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024, HB.1115, HB.1116 and HB.1117 sponsored by Hon. Kingsley Chinda, the Minority Leader and 59 others, passed through First Reading at plenary on Wednesday.

Briefing the press on the general principles of the multipartisan bills, the spokesperson of the sponsors, Hon. Abdussamad Dasuki (Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency), said the proposed alterations, when passed, would significantly impact the national political landscape. 

Dasuki said, “Our founders in their wisdom and in a political atmosphere devoid of compulsion, and having considered the interests of their native peoples and their desire to live together in a country where truth and justice reign, where no man is oppressed, and where all citizens live in peace and plenty, adopted the parliamentary System of Government.”

He noted that the proposed legislations seek to replace the President with a Prime Minister to serve as the Head of Government and establishing the office of the President as a ceremonial leader with the elective offices chosen from the elected members of the legislature.

“The bill intends to shift the process of electing Governors and Chairmen of Local Governments from general election to voting within their respective legislative bodies, and reduce bureaucratic hurdles and fostering closer collaboration between the executive and legislative branches”

“When the parliamentary system of government was practised in the First Republic, it worked for the country as by its nature the elected representatives that were both in the legislative and executive arms of government were accountable to the people”

H3  stressed that the collapse of the First Republic and the long stretch of military rule culminated in the adoption of a new system of government, theoretically fashioned after the Presidential System of the United States but in practice imbibed the uttermost attributes of military rule. 

“The high cost of governance, leaving fewer resources for crucial areas like infrastructure, education, and healthcare, and consequently hindering the nation’s development progress, and the excessive powers vested in the members of executive are the imperfections of the presidential system of government”

“The bills presented today seek a return to the system of government adopted by our founders, which made governance accountable, responsible and responsive, and ultimately less expensive. 

“With the presentation of these bills today, we hope to achieve the following: Ignite, provoke a national conversation about the future of Nigerian governance system. 

“To ensure robust public debates, stakeholder consultations, expert analyses, and a thorough and informed decision-making process. To raise awareness about this significant development and encourage constructive dialogue on the potential implications of these proposed constitutional alterations. The future of Nigerian governance rests on informed public engagement, and responsive and responsible leadership.”

Furthermore,  he said, “Our conviction is that a streamlined Executive Branch, which replaces the President and Vice President with a Prime Minister and cabinet chosen from the legislature could lead to a smaller central government, reducing salaries and administrative expenses.

“We also hold strongly that shifting the election of Governors and Local Government Chairmen from general election to votes within their respective legislative bodies could save billions spent on state and nationwide campaigns.

“Because ministers emerge from parliament, there is a greater coordination between the executive and the legislature, just as there will be increased legislative scrutiny, which would make cabinet members responsive to the yearnings of the people and more accountable.”

2031 is envisaged as the effective date of the prosposed new system of government.

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