Full statement on Bills proposing constitutional amendment for transition to Parliamentary Government

Leah TwakiFebruary 15, 20244 min

Press Statement on The Bills Proposing Constitutional Alterations For a Transition To Parliamentary System of Government.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the press.

Today, we stand on the cusp of history, as lawmakers across party affiliations and regional backgrounds come together to present bills proposing Constitutional Alterations that seek a transition to a Parliamentary System of Government.

These bills, seeking to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, advocate a transition from the current presidential system to a parliamentary system at all levels – federal, state, and local government.

The proposed alterations, when passed, would significantly impact the national political landscape.

Our founders in their wisdom and a political atmosphere devoid of compulsion, and having considered the interests of their native peoples and their desire to live together in a country where truth and justice reign, where no man is oppressed, and where all citizens live in peace and plenty, adopted the parliamentary System of Government.

That was the governance system of the First Republic, a period when legislative and executive powers were exercised by the representatives of the people in parliament and the executive, and by the nature of the system these representatives were accountable to the people. For six years while it was in operation, the system worked for the country.

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 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 potential.

Among these imperfections are the high cost of governance, leaving fewer resources for crucial areas like infrastructure, education, and healthcare, 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.

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

With the presentation of these bills today, we hope to achieve the following:

1. Ignite, and provoke a national conversation about the future of the Nigerian governance system.

2. To ensure robust public debates, stakeholder consultations, expert analyses, and a thorough and informed decision-making process.

3. To raise awareness about this significant development and encourage constructive dialogue on the potential implications of these proposed constitutional alterations. The future of Nigerian governance rests on informed public engagement, and responsive and responsible leadership.

The fundamental changes outlined in the bills include:

1. Parliamentary System: 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.

2. Legislative Elections: Shifting the process of electing Governors and Chairmen of Local Governments from general election to voting within their respective legislative bodies.

3. Streamlined Administration: 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 the general election to votes within their respective legislative bodies could save billions spent on state and nationwide campaigns.

Because ministers, commissioners (at the state level), and supervisors (at the local government level) emerge from parliament, there is greater coordination between the executive and the legislature, just as there will be increased legislative scrutiny, which would make cabinet members responsive to the yearnings of the people and more accountable.

Gentlemen of the press, the proponents of these alterations to the constitution for a parliamentary system of government have placed the interest of our nation above all other interests. Our hope is that the national conversation that would be ignited by these bills would lead to a system of government that works and our dear nation would attain her full potential.

Thank you.

Spokesman Parliamentary Bill Sponsors

Leah Twaki

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