Single tenure: National Assembly may get bill in October

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Niyi Odebode

The Federal Government is putting finishing touches to the single tenure bill and may forward it to the National Assembly in October.

An investigation by SATURDAY PUNCH on Friday in Abuja showed that the President was desirous of sending the bill and other proposed amendments to the National Assembly early so that work on them could be expedited.

A Presidency source said that the government was determined to ensure that the bills were passed before the commencement of the preparations for the 2015 polls.

He stated that the government would prevent a repeat of the 2010 situation in which the Electoral Act was amended twice because of the time constraint faced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

INEC was forced to demand amendments to the Electoral Act because of the time constraints it faced.

Sections 76(2), 116(2), 132(2) and 178(2) of the constitution, which stated that elections must take place between 150 and 120 days to the end of tenure, were amended to 150 and 30 days.

The elections, which were initially scheduled to take place between January and March 2011, were shifted to April, 30 days before the May 29 hand-over date.

Justifying the move to ensure an early submission of the bills, the Presidency source said, “The President wants to prevent a recurrence of what happened before the April polls when the Electoral Act was amended twice to give INEC more time to prepare for the elections.”

It was gathered that besides the single tenure bill, other proposed amendments that would be sent to the National Assembly included the revenue allocation formula and the reforms of the local government.

The investigation showed that the single tenure bill contained transitional clauses that would prevent the President from contesting the 2015 presidential poll.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, had on July 18, 2011 stated that Jonathan would present a bill for the single term to the National Assembly.

The proposed bill was criticised by opposition parties, which alleged that it was a ploy by Jonathan to extend his tenure.

The President had explained that the single term tenure proposal was not his idea, but that of all the political parties except the Action Congress of Nigeria.

Jonathan had on July 28 said that he was not going to be a beneficiary of the proposed single term.

Following the criticisms that followed the plan, some newspapers (THE PUNCH not included) reported that the President had dropped the proposal.

But on August 14, Abati, in an interview with journalists, said that the President would submit the bill to the National Assembly after its resumption on September 13.

Abati had said, “It is not on record anywhere that the President said he was no longer interested in that proposal. If you have any evidence to the contrary, then you can present it. You wait till they (National Assembly) return, then we will see whether the proposal or bill had been jettisoned or not.”


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