Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has canvassed a single term for the president and state governors to check the desperation and impunity of politicians.
He spoke yesterday at a retreat organised by the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He charged the presidential panel to strengthen the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in order to preserve the nation’s democracy.
He also wants the electoral umpire to be conducting party primaries to check excesses of politicians.Ekweremadu noted: “Nigeria is sadly on the part of decline in its leadership role in Africa in almost all sectors, including electoral system.”
The representative of Enugu West, who is also chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, explained that the essence of the amendment to Sections 81 and 156 of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly in 2010 was to guarantee the financial autonomy and neutrality of INEC, but lamented that the gains made in the 2011 and 2015 polls were being eroded.
“The word ‘Independent’ in the name of our election management body, INEC, is critical and must be defended and preserved if our democracy must survive.
“The Bible says that if salt loses its saltiness, it becomes worthless and can only be thrown away. The word ‘Independent’ is the salt in that commission. All the past reforms and the present efforts will be meaningless if we sit back and watch some desperate politicians destroy the independence of our electoral umpire.
“The world is watching too. We must ensure that INEC is retained as Independent National Electoral Commission in name and practice, not just National Electoral Commission as it is presently and dangerously drifting to. Inconclusiveness, postponement, cancellation, and manipulation are dangerous signs on the road to 2019,” he remarked.
He proposed a jail term without option of fine for security agents as well as permanent and ad-hoc staff of the commission, whom he said, currently “get away with brazen impunity and malpractices.
“It is wrong for anybody to engage in electoral malpractice, but it is even worse if guardians of the sanctity of the ballot box become the desecrators of the process,” he added.