Nigerians Divided Over Proposed Six-Year Single Term for President, Governors

A recent proposal by federal lawmakers to amend the 1999 Constitution and introduce a single six-year term for the president and governors has sparked a heated debate among Nigerians.

The proposal, which is yet to be discussed in the plenary session of the two chambers, has attracted both support and criticism from various quarters.

While some Nigerians believe the single-term proposal will check the desperation associated with a second term and enable incumbents to focus on their jobs, others think it is not a pressing need and may distract from more important issues.

Ladipo Johnson, publicity secretary of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), supports the proposal but warns it must not be used to extend the tenure of the current administration.

Johnson said: “The proposal makes sense; some countries are doing it. But it must not be to elongate the tenure of this government?”

Meanwhile, Udo Uduak, a lawyer, believes the current system is not working and needs a change.

“Is it not obvious that the current system is not working? We need a new constitution, or a comprehensive amendment should be made and part of it should be for single tenure for president and governors to save us from this logjam and trouble we often see because someone wants re-election. They can now face governance, knowing you have only one term,” he said.

Olisa Agbakoba, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), supports a single term of four years, citing Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s achievements in just 100 days.

He said, “Why do I need two terms of 8 years to do whatever I want to do as President. Anybody who is serious about governance can make the mark in two years. How long did it take Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) to turn things around in America in the 30s which could be termed one of the worst periods in America? Don’t forget that it was from him we now have 100 days in office that politicians celebrate. Within 100 days FDR had made his marks. But we don’t see such hunger to do the right thing here. We wait for second term.

“It is this illusion that ‘O, I have more four years’ that elected office holders waste their time and the time of everybody. If I had four years as a president, within two years, I would have done the major work I need to do. I don’t need eight years. It is a waste of time.”

Andrew Okon, a public affairs commentator, argues that the desperation for second term is driven by greed for power, not patriotism or passion for service.

However, Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, dismisses the proposal, stating that Nigeria has more pressing issues than term limits.

“I don’t think the suggestion of six-year single term for the president is part of the issues facing Nigeria,” Falana said.

The proposal is not new, having been introduced in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan and rejected in 2019 by the National Assembly.

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