By Paul Ibe, Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007
Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar is displeased with the speed with which the six-year single term proposal was rejected by the House of Representatives.
Reacting to the rejection of the bill by the House in a statement in Abuja on Monday, Atiku said he is disappointed by the fact that the lawmakers have thrown away the baby with the bath water at the expense of the larger interest of the country.
According to Atiku, “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.”
He explained that “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.”
Atiku added that “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.”
He noted that “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.”
The Waziri Adamawa regretted that “eight-year term of office rewards incompetence because even incumbents that have failed would use their access to public funds to return to power by fair or foul means.”
“I don’t agree with the logic that eight years would give elected leaders better opportunity to fulfill 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 stressed.
According to him, it is not how long a man spends in office, but how well he is adequately prepared for the job.
He argued that the desperation for second term is not necessarily driven by patriotism or the passion for service, but by the obsession with the greed for power for its own sake.
“Second term obsession rewards incompetence by allowing failed incumbents to be reelected regardless of their performance record. It also denies political parties the opportunity to replace failed incumbents with better candidates within the parties in the name of right of first refusal”.
The former Vice President noted that the rejection of the six-year single term was a mistake because little attention was paid to its merits, adding that eight years tenure of four years each sacrifices merit because the incumbents are automatically entitled to reelection regardless of their performance records.
Atiku is however of the view that current holders of the offices under the proposed constitutional review should not be entitled to a six-year term at the expiration of their second term.