Jonathan’s 6-Year Tenure Proposal: Matters Arising


Suddenly, the 4-year, two terms tenure which elected president, state governors and members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly are constitutionally required to stay in office is no longer fashionable in our country. That is, if we properly understand the body language of our president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. On Tuesday, the Presidency spokesman, Reuben Abati, announced that the president has concluded plans to send a bill proposing a single six-year term for the president, state governors and possibly other elected politicians.

The president claimed that the proposal was borne out of patriotism and the need to reduce the violence that characterise electioneering campaigns, thuggery, etc.

He said the acrimony associated with election and re-election affect the growth of democracy. Though the president’s proposal will come into effect in 2015 if passed into law and that he won’t be a beneficiary, not many Nigerians believe him.

Many see the proposal as fraudulent and self-serving. They may be right. Most Nigerians who reacted to the President’s proposal believe it is a ploy similar to the ones employed by other past leaders like General Ibrahim Babangida, the late General Sani Abacha and General Olusegun Obasanjo to perpetuate themselves in power.

Coming at a time the nation is in the throes of insecurity, hunger, poverty, unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure, corruption, poor electricity supply, etc., we believe this proposal is a needless distraction that should be ignored.

At a time like this, all the viable political parties ought to organise a forum where they could define programmes that they would execute to improve the lot of the people. They could decide that they could build 10,000 low-cost houses, construct 100 roads, built 100 health centres, etc. at a given period and ensure that all these are accomplished on schedule.

The parties could sign a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in order to ensure that the projects are executed successfully for the common good of all. That is how the Democratic and the Republican parties collaborate in America to achieve the success that we admire in this part of the world.

When the Democrats take over the reins of power in America from the Republicans, they don’t jettison the programmes or projects executed by the Republicans they took over from. Here the reverse is the case as our leaders are quick to reverse the policies of their predecessors who belong to other political parties and start everything afresh no matter how lofty the previous policies were. And so our country has continued to stagnate with the citizens wallowing in abject poverty.

We do not see anything wrong with the constitutionally required two terms of four years. In fact, four years is enough for any visionary leader to accomplish whatever programmes he intends to execute. After all, it took Chief Obafemi Awolowo about five years to achieve the great strides he is still being remembered for long after his demise. The massive industrialisation and educational advancement in the Western Region are legacies the great sage bequeathed to the people of the region.

President Jonathan can achieve the same feat without this distraction of tenure elongation. Nigerians who opposed the tenure elongation ploys of Babangida, Abacha and even Obasanjo, with some even paying with their lives, may not be easily hoodwinked by any reason for proposing a 6-year single term. The proposal should not be allowed to see the light of day. Let’s stick to the existing 2-terms of four years, no matter its so-called shortcomings.

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