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LAGOS. NIGERIA.     Saturday, November 09 2002

 

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Senate Whip, Sarumi Others Differ On Five-Year Single Term
From Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta) and Bayo Amusan (Lagos)

DISCOURSE on the merit of a five-year single term for the President and state governors, continued at the weekend, with politicians sharply divided on the practicability of the proposal many regard as a stop gap measure.

Speaking on the issue yesterday in Lagos while fielding questions from journalists, former Minister of Cooperation and Integration in Africa, Chief Dapo Sarumi said the proposal is not only unworkable, but amounted to postponing the evil day.

According to Sarumi who is a governorship aspirant in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the most realistic approach to the problem which he identified as manipulation of the electoral system, is to take the electoral machinery from the control of the government.

"Whether the country adopts a five year single term or a seven-year double term, the problem would persist. In fact the five-year single term will further compound the problem, as it would not create room for stability of the system and of accountability political office holders," Sarumi said.

He warned against creating problems for the future generation who would have to contend with the problem that the five-year single term would create.

"The real problem is manipulation of the system by the incumbent who is desirous of remaining in power. Let us put in place a structure that would make the system free of manipulation. Until we are able to take away the ability to manipulate the system from the governing party, the problem will not go away.

He therefore urged politicians to desist from acts that could undermine the credibility of the electoral system, through manipulation.

"In fact I would not mind a longer stay in the office by the president and governors, two terms of 7 years for instance. This would ensure stability," the PDP chief said.

But Senate Chief Whip, Senator Adawari Pepple, is rooting for the proposal. For him, the inordinate ambition of politicians to remain in power is the cause of insecurity in the country, therefore the five-year single term may be the solution.

He added that the single term option, will give a sense of belonging to all zones in the country, as power would rotate among them.

Speaking with journalists in Abuja, Pepple noted that almost all the executive office holders in the country today are gearing to be re-elected, without considering whether they have performed well or not.

According to Senator Pepple "this issue of maintenance of the status quo, whether the Nigerian People want it or not, is a very dangerous phenomenon threatening our polity today", the senator said.

The Chief Whip said that with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not showing any seriousness that it can conduct a smooth and fair election, most discerning Nigerians have been unnecessarily put on edge as to what the future holds.

Also pillorying the five-year single term proposal, yesterday, a member of the PDP board of trustees, Mr. Tunde Oshunrinde said it is misleading.

The PDP chieftain described the recent advice of The Patriots to President Olusegun Obasanjo not to seek re-election, as a wrong interpretation of the prevailing climate in Nigeria."

Oshunrinde appealed to The Patriots to have a rethink about their position on the issue.

He said that their suggestion with regard to a "constitutional amendment to address a purely attitudinal problem, is to trivialize the seriousness of the process of constitutional making".

He said in a statement released at Abeokuta that The Patriots being men of outstanding achievements, should join the efforts to tame the demon of failed democratic transitions.

 

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