Reps propose return to parliamentary govt

The House of Representatives has introduced a bill seeking to return the country to parliamentary system of government at the federal, state and local government levels, effective from 2031.

The bill, which is seeking to alter the relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) was sponsored by the Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda, and 59 others, and read for the first time at the plenary yesterday.

The country operated a parliamentary system of government from independence in 1960 until the first military coup in 1966. However, when the democratic rule was restored in 1979, the country changed to a presidential system of government.

The sponsors of the bill, under the aegis of Parliamentary Bill Sponsors, at a press briefing, yesterday, said the bill if passed into law, would reduce the cost of governance in the country, as well as make the government more accountable and responsive.

The spokesman of the sponsors, Abdussamad Dasuki, said the presidential system, which the country has been operating since 1979 is bedeviled with several challenges.

Such challenges, according to him, include high cost of governance, which leaves less resources for infrastructure, education, and healthcare among other development projects.

Dasuki explained that the founding fathers of the country, in their wisdom, at independence, adopted the parliamentary system of government, where legislative and executive powers were exercised by lawmakers, with its many benefits.

According to him, “The collapse of the First Republic and the long stretch of military rule culminated in the adoption of a new system of government, theoretically fashioned after the presidential system of the United States, but in practice imbibed the uttermost attributes of a military rule.

“No wonder the Nigerian president appears to be one of the most powerful presidents in the world.

Over the years, the imperfections of the presidential system of government have become glaring to all, despite several alterations to the constitution to address the shortcomings of a system that has denied the nation the opportunity of attaining its full potentials.

“Among these imperfections are the high cost of governance, leaving fewer resources for crucial areas like infrastructure, education, and healthcare, and consequently hindering the nation’s development progress, and the excessive powers vested in the members of the executive, who are appointees and not directly accountable to the people.”

Dasuki added that the fundamental changes outlined in the constitution alterations bills include, “replacing the President with a Prime Minister to serve as the Head of Government and establishing the office of the President as a ceremonial leader. These elective offices are to be chosen from the elected members of the legislature.

“Shifting the process of electing governors and chairmen of local governments from general elections to voting within their respective legislative bodies. Potentially reducing bureaucratic hurdles and fostering closer collaboration between the executive and legislative branches.

“Our conviction is that a streamlined executive branch, which replaces the president and vice president with a prime minister and cabinet chosen from the legislature, could lead to a smaller central government, reducing salaries and administrative expenses.

“We also hold strongly that shifting the election of governors and local government chairmen from general election to votes within their respective legislative bodies could save billions spent on state and nationwide campaigns.”

He further noted that because ministers, commissioners and supervisors, emerge from the parliament, “there is a greater coordination between the executive and the legislature, just as there will be increased legislative scrutiny, which would make the cabinet members responsive to the yearnings of the people, and more accountable.”


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