Why we are proposing 6-year single term for president, governors – Reps reform group

A group of 35 members of the House of Representatives has proposed a single term of six years for President Federal Republic of Nigeria and the governors.

The lawmakers also said elections into all political offices should hold simultaneously same day to save the country from huge electoral expenditure.

Speaking at a media briefing Monday in Abuja, the group’s spokesman, Hon. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, unveiled six of the about 50 proposed Bills, some of which he said, had scaled first reading stage.

The group which dubbed itself “Reform Minded Lawmakers” said: “Today, we are taking a crucial step that will further strengthen our understanding, expand the frontiers of our inclusiveness, deepen our bond as one people under God and build a stronger support that will deepen our democracy and electoral system.”

…The proposed items

On the Bills dwelling governance, he listed the items to  include a “Constitutional Alteration to provide for the rotation of executive powers among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equal representation and reduce the desperation and tempo of agitation for the creation of states”, and to “amend section 3 of the Constitution to provide for the recognition of the division of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones.

“To amend the Constitution to provide for a single tenure of six years for the President and Governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…Amend the Constitution to create the office of two vice presidents from the southern and northern parts of Nigeria. The 1st vice shall be a succession Vice president, while the 2nd Vice president shall be a Minister in charge of the Economy, and both shall be Ministers.

“Constitutional Amendment to provide that the President and the 1st Vice President shall come from the same part of the country (north or south) and the 1st Vice President shall become President whenever the President becomes incapacitated, i.e., V.P. (Succession), V.P. (Administration and Economy.

“The financial autonomy and accountability of Local Government Councils by prescribing an independent Consolidated Local Government Council Account solely superintended by Local Councils and prescribing long-term imprisonment for any misuse of Local Government funds.”

He further said there would be need “to amend section 162(5) of the 1999 Constitution to provide that where a State Government fails to remit to the Local Government Councils within its jurisdiction (or within the State), the amounts standing to the credit of that Local Government in the allocation from the Federation account, such State Government shall not be entitled to receive a future allocation from the Federal Government.”

…Electoral reforms

Also in the area of electoral reforms, the lawmakers said “elections remain our only democratic means of bringing back sanity in our polity, so we must get our selection processes right, and proposed Amending the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to ensure that all elections (presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state houses of Assembly, and local governments) are held on the same day.

“Amending the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to provide that no declaration of a winner of an election shall be done by the relevant INEC Officials until such officer has compared the results with the list of accredited voters and ensured that the results to be declared are in tandem with the list of accredited voters and the B-VAS machine or any other electronic device.

“Amend the Electoral Act to provide that any INEC Officer who declares a false result will be liable for civil and criminal action personally brought against him by parties in the elections”, and an “Amendment to the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related litigations must be resolved and determined by the Elections Petitions Tribunal, Appeal Courts, etc., before the winners are sworn into the respective elective offices.

“An Amendment of the Electoral Act to make provision for the conduct and conclusion of all elections and election-related litigation within a period of six months before the swearing into office of the validly elected person for the office contested.

“An Amendment of the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related documents and materials must be made available to those who participated in elections and who have reasons to question/petition the elections at the Elections Tribunal.”

…INEC on professionalism of personnel

In related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that its involvement in effective training programmes empowered its staff to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, in order to strengthen electoral processes and procedures to serve the interests of all Nigerians.

The Commission also stated that “achieving professionalism among election personnel is a critical step towards ensuring free, fair, credible and inclusive elections.” 

Speaking Monday in Abuja at the memorial public lecture in honour of late Professor Abubakar Momoh, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said it was imperative to prioritise the professional development of election personnel with a view to ensuring credibility and trustworthiness in elections and build trust among the electorate.

Represented at the occasion by the Chairman Board of Electoral Institute (BOI), Prof Abdullahi Zuru, the INEC chairman warned that “unethical and corrupt practices by election officials will not be tolerated and shall incur severe punishments under the law.”

He said “the Commission’s involvement in effective training programmes has empowered its staff to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, in order to strengthen our processes and procedures to serve the interests of all Nigerians.”

The INEC boss said the Commission had always demanded that all election officials should be punctual, courteous, polite, and helpful at all times, describing voters as the masters and should be treated equally, decently and with utmost respect. 

He said “for these reasons, all election officials should be guided by the principles of integrity, impartiality, transparency, professionalism, gender and disability sensitive; and due consideration and support for the elderly, pregnant women, nursing mothers and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).”

“Effective and efficient electoral training is the key to unlocking professionalism among election personnel. Hence, the Commission is unequivocal in its drive to equip its staff cum trainers with the knowledge, skills, and ethical standards required to excel in their roles by investing in comprehensive and interactive training programmes as well as explore possible collaboration with development partners to achieve best practices in electoral training. 

“Through training, the Commission is able to deepen electoral knowledge and strengthen the skills and competences of personnel over time. Build a pool of professional and efficient trainers/facilitators that is responsive to the training needs of Commission staff and other electoral stakeholders.

“Develop a structured approach that engenders decentralised service delivery for effective training programmes. Broaden the understanding of the role of Commission staff, enabling them contribute meaningfully to the goal of achieving free, fair, credible and inclusive elections.

“Explore the modalities of global best practices with regard to the engagement and training of electoral personnel in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Develop effective monitoring and evaluation processes that will enhance the assessment of training impact. Evolve and adapt training to changes in technology and the electoral environment,” he said.

Professor Yakubu also said “by achieving professionalism among Commission staff, the immediate low hanging fruits include: Public trust and confidence in the electoral process, Accuracy, and reliability of election results Accountability and transparency Strengthening of democratic culture.”

Earlier, the Director General of the Electoral Institute (TEI), Dr. Sa’ad Idris, said the commission in its stride to enhance the capacity and competencies of its personnel, through TEI, developed various programmes to enhance the capacity of its staff.

According to him, Consequently, the successes achieved by the Commission in the recently conducted 2023 General Election and other off-Cycle Governorship Elections both in 2023 and 2024 bear credence to the fact that the investment made by the commission towards enhancement of the capacities of its trainers is a step in the right direction.

Idris emphasised that the off-cycle elections in Edo and Ondo states presented a significant opportunity to demonstrate the Commission’s commitment to conducting free, fair, credible and Inclusive elections.

Speaking on the theme: “Achieving Professionalism Among Election Personnel Through Effective Training in Preparation for the Edo and Ondo States Governorship Elections”, Director, MacArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima,  stressed the need to revamp the curricula of training of election officials to include civic duties, the history of elections, democracy, integrity and accountability of election officials, the role of INEC, credible elections, among others, in addition to the technical processes and procedures.

He also called for automation to reduce the cost of elections, contribute to environmental health and increase efficiency in the electoral process.

Other recommendations by Shettima were physical screening to be conducted before ad-hoc staff are recruited and deployed, saying this would present a more robust check against the recruitment and deployment of unqualified persons. 

He added: “It is advised to recruit in partnership with institutions instead of recruit as individuals. Ensure that recruited personnel possess the requisite educational qualifications. This will address challenges with a poor understanding of the electoral process and duties by ad-hoc staff. 

“The pre- and post-screening test with a recommended pass rate should be administered to ensure that recruits for ad-hoc staff duty understand their duties and responsibilities adequately. Registration Area Centers should be opened early, and adequate security should be provided to protect sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials and electoral staff. Registration Area Centers should be made habitable. 

“Adequate facilities, including lighting, mattresses, convenience, etc., should be provided at RACs. Adequate provisions for logistics should be provided. This should include logistics considerations that address the needs of physically challenged pregnant women, new mothers, and senior citizens.  We should put mechanisms for assessing the quality of training of the Institute.”

About Joshua Egbodo and Emeka Nze, Abuja

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