Friday, February 03, 2006

JCRC Throws out Three Terms of 4 Years Proposal - A Good Start

Members of the Nigerian national assembly Joint Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (JCRC) finally got it right yesterday when they resolved to exclude the three terms of four years for executive offices of the president and state governors proposal from the list of proposals for review. By so doing they have shown moral courage and integrity, and proved that they are not mere instruments of injustice and insincerity in the hands of the various governors and other political pundits and stakeholders that have given support to the proposal.

Of the 36 state governors in Nigeria, all but 9 have lent their support to the three term proposal. It begs the question if and how those governors in support are different from the sit-tight military regimes most of them were vociferously against in the days of Abacha and IBB. Asking for three terms of four years each means that a certain governor or president could be in power for a total of twelve years, far more than any government, military or civilian has stayed continuously in power. Regardless of performance, we may be stuck with the same executive officer for 12 years. This is how despots are made. By 2007, many of those clamoring for a third term to be added to their tenure would have been in power for eight years and yet have no real achievement to show for their leadership. Many have turned the state coffers into their personal piggy banks and I suspect that the reason why they seek a third term is so that they will continue to enjoy the protection of the immunity clause in the constitution, that way shielding themselves from indictment for graft and other acts of gross misconduct.

The JCRC should seriously take a look at this clause in the 1999 constitution of blanket immunity for executive officers, particularly the governors, because as has been proven by Mbadinuju, Alamieyeseigha and Dariye it is prone to abuse and ridicule. If there is anything positive that should result from the work of the committee, it should be reviewing this seriously flawed aspect of the constitution and making it applicable only to legitimate acts of governance. Nobody should be immune from prosecution for heinous crimes such as murder and graft for which some ex-governors have been indicted. Democracy is based on the principles of equality and justice and our elected officers are expected not only to dispense these but also to abide by them. If defined properly and applied correctly, immunity clauses are embedded in the constitution to enable the dispensation of justice and equity and not protect unjust and iniquitous governors from prosecution.

Another proposal that the JCRC should consider throwing out of their scope of deliberation is the issue of rotational presidency. There is no sincere logic other than selfish tribalism and rabid jingoism driving proponents of rotational presidency. Crafting a constitutional instrument to legitimize this will be the greatest disservice to democracy and justice. Not only will it breed mediocrity and an unwarranted sense of entitlement, it will deprive the Nigerian populace of the most able leadership at each point in time since the available choices will be limited only to candidates from the region to which the presidency has been zoned. If there are six zones as being proposed, then we are talking of excluding 83.33% of the potential pool of candidates, a gross miscarriage of justice and frank perversion of democracy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great blog. Very progressive.