On the advantages of the two issues on restructuring which I gave hint last week of treating today, I am starting with that of replacing the presidential system with the parliamentary one. Which I consider more fundamental and of primacy and should therefore be dealt with before going into why having six regions is better than the present 36 – state conglomeration. And before expounding on how to overcome the tug of war with President Muhammadu Buhari, the governors of the 36 states and the members of the National and State Assemblies who in their self – interest will oppose restructuring which is needed to reduce corruption and fast track the country’s development and progress from its present pedestrian and uninspiring situations.
The first thing I am drawing attention to is the very huge cost of electing the president and the governors with several billions, if not trillions, with regard to the former, in the presidential system compared with the minimal amount of a few millions required in parliamentary system polls. From the Dasukigate scandal, it is now common knowledge that apart from the normal monumental campaign expenses by all the candidates, that erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan spent several millions of naira to bribe political leaders across the parties in his futile bid for re – election last year.
This was apart from the millions he reportedly gave to traditional rulers, Christian and Muslim clerics all over the country to mobilize members of their congregations to vote for him. It is also on record that he sent four hundred million naira through a former Governor of Sokoto State to some Islamic priests in the North to fast and pray for him to win the ill – fated election. I also recall that Buhari was reported as saying he took a loan of twelve million naira to supplement the money he had for the poll while some friends and his party members also made donations.
Buhari and Jonathan like all the presidential candidates during the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections had to spend such colossal amounts because in the type of presidential system we have been practicing since 1999 the president is elected by registered voters throughout the country. While a governor is chosen by the electorate in all the local government areas in a state. Under the parliamentary system operated during the First Republic the chief executive officer of government at the federal level was the prime minister not the president. While in the regions it was the premier, not the governor. The prime minister hand – picked the president while the premier chose the governor who were ceremonial head of state and commander – in – chief of the armed forces and head of the government of the region respectively.
Under the system, the prime minister like the members of the Senate and House of Representatives and the premier like the legislators in the Regional House of Assembly were chosen in elections by voters in their individual constituencies, each of which was made up of a few wards in a local government area. So, the expenses for election under the system were by far less than what has to be spent by a presidential candidate who is voted for by people all over the country or a governor elected by voters in all local government areas in a state under the presidential system.
The prime minister or premier who emerged from the party or coalition of parties with the majority in the House of Representatives or the Regional House of Assembly was voted for by their colleagues during the first sitting of parliament. And they were the leader of the ruling party in the legislature or the national leader of the party, if a member of the House.
Since the prime minister or premier did not spend much to win election into parliament and spent nothing to become the head of government there was no need for them to be corrupt in order to recoup. The huge amount the president and governors spend to get into office is the reason why the rate of corruption has been alarming in the country since 1999.
For continuation next week