Six-year single term, litigation before inauguration, other proposals by Atiku

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Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, on Monday, described as “disappointing”, the October 26, 2023 verdict of the Supreme Court affirming President Bola Tinubu as the winner of the February 25, 2023 election. At a press briefing in the nation’s capital Abuja, Atiku, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, proposed a further amendment of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022 to accommodate a six-year single term for a President for each of the six geopolitical zone.

He added that the law must mandate electronic voting and collation of results, compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to verify the credentials of candidates, amongst others. The PDP candidate also urged the National Assembly to amend relevant laws and ensure that litigations are concluded before the inauguration of elected persons. The former Vice President said, “Firstly, we must make electronic voting and collation of results mandatory. This is the 21st century and countries less advanced than Nigeria are doing so already. It is only bold initiatives that transform societies.

“Secondly, we must provide that all litigation arising from a disputed election must be concluded before the inauguration of a winner. This was the case in 1979. The current time frame between elections and inauguration of winners is inadequate to dispense with election litigations. “What we have currently is akin to asking thieves to keep their loot and use the same to defend themselves while the case of their robbery is being decided. It only encourages mandate banditry rather than discourages it. “Thirdly, in order to ensure popular mandate and real representation, we must move to require a candidate for President to earn 50% +1 of the valid votes cast, failing which a run-off between the top two candidates will be held. Most countries that elect their presidents use this Two-Round System (with slight variations) rather than our current First-Past-the-Post system.

“Examples include France, Finland, Austria, Bulgaria, Portugal, Poland, Turkey and Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Mozambique, Madagascar and even Liberia where a run-off is expected to hold in the coming days. “Fourthly, in order to reduce the desperation of incumbents and distractions from governing and also to promote equity and national unity, we need to move to a single six-year term for President to be rotated among the six geo-political zones. This will prevent the ganging up of two or more geo-political zones to alternate the presidency among themselves to the exclusion of other zones.

“INEC should be mandated to verify the credentials submitted to it by candidates and their parties and where it is unable to do so – perhaps because the institutions involved did not respond in time – it must publicly state so and have it on record.

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