Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says the six-year single term for presidents rejected by the House of Representatives would have prevented election rigging by “desperate” incumbents.
The lower legislative chamber rejected a bill seeking to provide for such a term for the president and governors at Tuesday’s plenary session.
Reacting hours after, Atiku described the rejection as a missed opportunity that would have improved Nigeria’s democratic process.
In a statement from Paul Ibe, his spokesman, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election, said Nigeria’s current system of a single tenure of four years with a maximum of two terms rewards incompetence “because even incumbents that have failed would use their access to public funds to return to power by fair or foul means”.
“In view of the challenges facing our current democratic order, especially the culture of rigging that subverts the will of the people, six-year single term would have ended such untoward practices in our electoral process,” Atiku said.
“The desperation for second term by the incumbents is the main reason why they go for broke and set the rule book on fire, thereby making free and fair elections impossible by legitimizing rigging at the expense of their challengers that have no access to public funds.
“A situation where the incumbents deploy more public resources to their second term projects than using the funds for people’s welfare encourages massive rigging that undermines electoral integrity.
“Six-year single term would remove such desperation and enable the incumbents concentrate on the job for which they were elected in the first place.”
He also said he does not agree with the logic posed by some of the federal lawmakers that eight years would give elected leaders better opportunity to fulfil their campaign promises.
“An inherently incompetent incumbent will perform below average even if you give him/her 20 years in office or give him or her $20 billion dollars”, Atiku said.
“Second term obsession … also denies political parties the opportunity to replace failed incumbents with better candidates within the parties in the name of right of first refusal.”
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