Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chairman, Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Mr Emeka Ihedioha, yesterday, reiterated the National Assembly’s stance to leave the tenure provision for the office of the President at the current four years.
Ihedioha, who made this known at an event organized to review some of the proposed amendments to the constitution by Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, led by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, said despite pressures on the legislative arm of government to extend the tenure of the President to seven years, “we have unanimously rejected such proposal as doing so will be contrary to the wish of the people.”
Shedding light on the circumstances that led to the lower legislative chamber of the National Assembly dissociating itself from moves to amend the constitution to create an extended single tenure for both the office of the President and governors, Ihedioha said: “This is one area where the committee relied on the results obtained from the Peoples Public Session.
“Indeed item 25 asked the question, ‘should section 135 and 180(2) be amended to create a single tenure of five, six or seven years for the office of President and Governor respectively?”
“245 Federal constituencies rejected the question of a single tenure for Chief Executives while 110 Federal Constituencies supported same with five abstentions. The committee did not stop here. It posed a direct question “should the (four year) two term tenure provision for the office of the President or office of Governor be retained in the Constitution?
“To this further question, 263 Federal Constituencies voted ‘Yes’ and only 95 Federal Constituencies voted ‘No’ with two abstentions.
With this level of unanimity, it was not difficult for the committee to adopt the current four year renewable tenure and to reject the single term proposal of neither five, six or seven years.
“This is the clear position of Nigerians on this issue. It was not therefore difficult for the House of Representatives to reject proposal for extension of tenure of the executive. It was purely the wish of the people. Once the people take a priority, we are honour bound to abide by it.
“As a representative institution, the House of Reps made an effort to give pride of place to the views, wishes and aspirations of its constituents-the Nigerian people in this constitution review exercise.”