The Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, Dr Sam Amadi, Professor Udenta Udenta, Dr Law Mefor and Princess Hamman-Obels, recently dissected tenure elongation for elected office holders and democratic governance in Nigeria.
They made their divergent positions in Abuja during a review of Dr Ken Nnamani’s book entitled: ‘Standing Strong.’
Amadi, who was the Executive Director of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), contended that the issue of tenure elongation in Nigeria should be relaxed because of the fragile nature of the economy, telling poverty and ethic strife.
“Democracy is not about strong person but strong institution. Democracy does not know that it is only one person who can achieve success. If a tenure is 4 years or 5 years, we should build and allow succession.
“When a leader tries his best other leaders will come and build on that foundation. And because we are an ethnic society in West Africa, a fragile society with high level of poverty and religious, ethnic conflict any attempt to elongate the tenure can lead to ethnic conflict and warfare.
“If somebody from the South and he wants to extend his tenure, it could mean that the Northern politicians will gang up and may lead to military coup. That is what we are seeing in Mali and Guinea.
“My advice is that we should stick to democracy. It may take us sometime, but we will perfect the institution than creating conflict because one person feels indispensable and want to discontinue the process and elongate their tenure.
“We need peace and constitutional limit of tenure is the best way to guarantee a smooth transition and power sharing amongst diverse ethnic groups,” he said.
Meanwhile, Professor Udenta argued that the quest for tenure elongation stemmed from the perks attached to certain office in which occupiers of the office would not want to let go.
He said: “Lack of democratic consolidation of strengthening the basics of democratic governance may not always be the function of tenure elongation.
“It may well be when the person seeking tenure elongation is not even prepared to serve the people; he is just there because of the joys of office or the presidential travels in presidential jets, having the nation worship an individual may be enough to elongate the tenure.
“The person having this kind of mindset may not believe in democratic. So tenure elongation in that regard, distablises a system, disrupt social fabric and damages democratic governance.
“But even when you respect tenure elongation as we have respected in Nigeria after the Obasanjo situation, do I really think we are enjoying democracy? Is the society cohesive and coherent? Do we have insecurity and poverty challenges? Yes.
“That means it is not tenure elongation that is really creating these cavities of hopelessness by the way and manner norms of democracy are trumped upon, transgressed upon and subverted by illiberal and authoritarian democratic practices.
“Once you have a full understanding of what that democracy you are practicing means, the best possible well-faced state, the well-being of the people is the first category of democratic governance.
“What is the material condition of their lives? Jobs, shelter, food before the you elevate much cultural appacement including the expansion of democracy culture, entertainment, soccer and watching movies.”
However, Dr Law Mefor, who backed a single tenure of 6 years for elected officers, maintained the Nigeria practices civil rule and not democracy as citizens are made to believe.
“If six years single tenure is done an incumbent elected officials will not be worried about re-election but working for the people,” he said.