Delegates under the auspices of Northern Delegates Forum, NDF, at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja, on Monday voted down President Goodluck Jonathan’s six-year single term proposal.
According to National Mirror, the president had earlier pushed the proposal for adoption of the controversial tenure months before the commencement of the conference, but was disappointed by the northern delegates who put up a strong resistance against it’s adoption.
It was also gathered that the delegates had been under intense pressure to add the presidency’s proposal of single term to its recommendation.
President Goodluck Jonathan
Anthony Sani, the NDF’s spokesperson in a statement, urged delegates to come up with way of checking incumbency, rather than using its fear to adopt single tenure of six years which might be counter-productive.
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He pleaded with the electorates to make good use of their franchise by making sure their votes count, adding that such development would make leaders at all levels to be accountable as well as fulfill their promise of democratic dividends by eradicating poverty, unemployment, ignorance and disease.
The statement, however, refuted the alleged report that the Forum was lobbied by the presidency to accept the idea of a new constitution from the deliberations of the conference.
“Let Nigeria devise a way of reducing the abuse of incumbency, instead of using its fear of incumbency to adopt single tenure of six year that will be counter-productive. We do not believe in the wisdom of fear of today’s challenges to redefine our national agenda, believing that if we work hard, we shall overcome and make Nigeria feel young again with promise of glory days ahead. We also believe that what can discourage politics of power shift; rotation and zoning is for our leaders at all levels not to encourage their concomitant motive that access to state and national resources should be turn by turn. We must also note that in many instances, the emergence of feckless leaders at all levels is helped by those who do not come out to vote. When one reads reports that the confab is being lobbied to accept the idea of a new constitution from deliberations of the confab, and that the bobby is at the instance of the presidency, it is baffling. Stunning in the sense that Mr. President, in his inaugural speech, accepted that the current constitution does not have the provision to replace itself with a new one” the statement read.
It added that: “He then said the starting point would be to amend the current constitution to accommodate a referendum. But the amendment of the constitution is not within the purview of the confab, but that of the national and state assemblies. So, we do not see the wisdom of lobbying the northern delegates. The most appropriate place to go and do the lobby is the national and state assemblies. As to the import of the conference making a new constitution, we wish to say that the current constitution is being challenged, not on lack of its soundness, but because the military and the elected constituent assemblies which brought it about are said not to represent the people of Nigeria. Where that has been the premise for the clamouring for a new one, it would be contradicting for selected delegates by the presidency to bring about the new constitution. In any case, this idea of a referendum is not appealing, because the level of education of most Nigerians has not reached where most Nigerians can make informed decisions on constitutional matters.
“Any constitution by the so-called referendum would still be by the elite for the elite, and that would be most unfair. But if the legislatures will amend the constitution to accommodate a referendum, we cannot prevent them in a democracy.
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The forum, who also condemned the call for the scraping of local government said: “Those who advocate for the scrapping of the 774 local governments ignore the important fact that the local governments are the closest to majority of the people who see our democracy through what they see in the local governments. And that may explain the outcry against the manner state governors stymying their autonomy and effective administration, and that is why there is opposition to making the creation of local governments exclusive preserve of state governments, and that is why there is opposition to stopping federal allocations to local governments”.
Sani reiterated the need to remove abuse of power of incumbency, adding that other countries came up with innovations to reduce the tendency to abuse power of incumbency, and cited Chile as an example saying: the country allows a multiple tenure that is not consecutive by preventing a president to conduct an election in which he is a candidate.