Thursday, 15 February 2024 04:49

Reps introduce bill to abolish presidential system, return to parliamentary system

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A group of 60 lawmakers has initiated a move to end the current presidential system and revert to the parliamentary system previously used in Nigeria’s First Republic.

The group, known as the Parliamentary Group, introduced a constitution alteration bill on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, setting in motion what could be a transition to a parliamentary system by 2031.

Three constitution alteration bills were presented by the Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), and 60 others during plenary.

Spokesperson of the group, Abdulsamad Dasuki, briefed journalists on the synopses of the bills.

During a press briefing at the House Press Center, the lawmakers, led by Dasuki, expressed their frustration with the expensive presidential system and the overbearing powers of the president.

“No wonder the Nigerian President appears to be one of the most powerful Presidents in the world,” Dasuki said.

“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 to attain its full potential.

“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,” he said.

The lawmakers seem not confident about their chances of success in getting the bill passed within the current Assembly, therefore, setting a timeline of 2031 for the constitutional amendment to allow the transition.

Dasuki said the group is seeking to spark a conversation about the lack of effectiveness of the current presidential system.

“The bills presented today seek a return to the system of government adopted by our founders, which made governance accountable, responsible, and responsive, and ultimately less expensive,” he said.

Parliamentary System

Nigeria operated under the parliamentary system pre-independence and in the First Republic. However, the coup of 15 January 1966 truncated that republic.

The military suspended the civil government and ruled the country until the transition to democracy in 1979, but the Second Republic was built on the 1979 Constitution which prescribed the presidential system.

The proposal by the lawmakers is seeking to revert to the First Republic system with a prime minister, a member of parliament, serving as the head of government, similar to the British system.

In a parliamentary system, the executive branch derives its legitimacy and authority from the legislative branch. The head of government (often the prime minister) is typically a member of the legislature and is accountable to it. This system fosters a close relationship between the executive and legislative branches, allowing for efficient decision-making and policy implementation.

However, some experts believe that the parliamentary system polarised the country during the First Republic – especially as the prime minister needs not to be acceptable to the majority of citizens – paving the way for the military to strike.

The timing of the proposed legislation raises significant suspicion. One concern is that the lawmakers seem to be aiming for when President Bola Tinubu would have finished his constitutionally allowed tenure. Tinubu is due for re-election in 2027 for another term of four years which is going to end by 2031.

Members of the coalition include members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).



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