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Ekweremadu Seeks Single Term For President, Governors

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BEVERLY HILLS, December 14, (THEWILL) – The Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu on Tuesday made a case for president and state governors to be entitled to a single term as a way of checking the desperation and impunity of politicians, as well as reduce the life and death struggle by politicians for control of party machinery.

He stated this at a retreat organised by the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where he charged the presidential panel to strengthen the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in order to preserve the nation's democracy.

Ekweremadu, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, explained that a single term of office was the way to go to reduce the desperation of incumbents, which in turn defiles the electoral process and endangers democracy.

“Much of the impunity, violence, and malpractices that defile our electoral system are caused by desperation for a second term of office; a single term of six years, for example, for incumbent executives to conclude all their 'good work', will certainly reduce the weight and influence they bring to bear on elections remotely or directly affecting them,” he said.

The Deputy Senate President also wants INEC to be conducting party primaries to check excesses of politicians, stating that: “This is the practice in Ghana. It will reduce the competition amongst stakeholders to take control of the party machinery. At the moment, it is almost a life and death matter during the primaries of political parties”.

“Nigeria is sadly on the part of decline in its leadership role in Africa in almost all sectors, including electoral system,” he added.

He explained that the essence of the amendment to Sections 81 and 156 of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly in 2010 was to guarantee the financial autonomy and neutrality of INEC, but lamented that the gains made in the 2011 and 2015 polls were being eroded.

According to him, “the word 'Independent' in the name of our election management body, INEC, is critical and must be defended and preserved if our democracy must survive.

“The Bible says that if salt loses its saltiness, it becomes worthless and can only be thrown away. The word 'Independent' is the salt in that commission. All the past reforms and the present efforts will be meaningless if we sit back and watch some desperate politicians destroy the independence of our electoral umpire.

“The world is watching too. We must ensure that INEC is retained as Independent National Electoral Commission in name and practice, not just National Electoral Commission as it is presently and dangerously drifting to. Inconclusiveness, postponement, cancellation, and manipulation are dangerous signs on the road to 2019.”

Ekweremadu went on to propose a jail term without option of fine for security agents as well as permanent and ad-hoc staff of the commission, whom he said, currently “get away with brazen impunity and malpractices.

“It is wrong for anybody to engage in electoral malpractice, but it is even worse if guardians of the sanctity of the ballot box become the desecrators of the process,” he added.