SINGLE TERM PRESIDENCY: THE PROS AND CONS
Recently, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan stirred the hornet's nest with his proposal for a six year single term for President and Governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The points being canvassed by the proponents of this proposal which according to the Presidency include, the Justice Uwais led Electoral Reform Committee under the Late President Umaru Yar'Adua are that it will stem the political acrimony experienced during change of government and minimise the huge resources spent.
Before I go further, it is my humble view and with respect to Mr President that the issue of tenure of our governors or President is too early to bother the electorate. It would be recalled that for almost ten months before the April election, the entire nation was engaged in political activities which also slowed down other economic and even government activities. Promises were made to the beleaguered people and their hopes were raised.
The people of Nigeria are therefore anxiously expecting to receive the dividend of democracy. They expect to see that the increasing problem of power generation is fixed. This problem has rendered their businesses and industries comatose while many of these industries have relocated to Ghana and other neighbouring West African Countries that enjoy constant power supply.
The problem of unemployment as evidenced in the increasing number of unemployed graduates roaming the streets in search of non-existing job is still staring us in the face. Mr President, it still troubles many Nigerians that the country still imports petroleum products because the country has failed to fix its refineries after twelve years of democracy yet the same country enjoys the enviable record of the sixth oil producing country. Mr President, many Nigerians feel scandalised that scarcity of these petroleum products like kerosene (as presently being experienced) has remained a recurring decimal in our life with its attendant excruciating pains on that masses.
Now on the meat of the matter, I do not subscribe to argument in support of a single term for our executive political office holders as adumbrated above. Politics is a contest therefore, it is bound to be contentious, the society may minimise bad blood and acrimony if there is internal democracy among the political parties and free and fair election in the country. I submit without fear of contradiction that most people who lose election will concede defeat where the election is truly adjudged free, fair and credible.
The proponents of this single term did not consider the other argument that a person who is elected for a single term may turn into a dictator or '' governor do nothing'' or ''President do nothing'' since he is not going to seek re-election.
A single term will deny the electorate the right and desire to vote out a non performing Governor or President earlier than desired as it happened in Anambra State where former Governor Clement Mbadinuju and Imo State where former Governor Ikedi Ohakim were voted out after serving their first term. A governor or president who is voted out after the first term is an eloquent testimony of non performance and such bad record will continue to haunt the person. The fear of losing a re-election will induce performance in a governor who ordinarily will not have done anything.
A single tenure of six years will manacle the electorate from enjoying the good work of a performing Governor or President as evidenced in Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, notwithstanding his heavy tax.
My humble submission therefore is that this proposal from the Presidency is unnecessary distraction and my advice is that the Presidency should concentrate on how to solve these problems enumerated above as anything contrary will amount to political harakiri .