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Nigeria: Proposal for Constitutional Amendment to Reduce Presidential and Gubernatorial Tenure to Single Term

(Aug. 1, 2011)

Reuters reported on July 26, 2011, that Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's President, who is currently serving his second and final term, is gearing up to propose a constitutional amendment that, if enacted, would change presidential as well as state gubernatorial tenures of office to long but single terms. (Felix Onuah, Nigeria's Jonathan Wants Single, Longer Presidency Term, REUTERS (July 26, 2011).) He did not indicate the length of the proposed single terms.

In a statement, the President noted that this measure is needed in order to diminish the acrimony among the supporters of different political groups generated both at the federal and the state level in every election cycle. (Id.) A typical example in this regard is the rioting that ensued at the conclusion of the recent presidential elections, claiming hundreds of lives and displacing tens of thousands of people. (Id.; Joe Brock, Nigerian President Urges Unity After Election Riots, REUTERS (Apr. 18, 2011).)

In addition, Jonathan contends that a long, single term will help politicians focus more on governing and less on campaigning. (Id.) Jonathan also urged lawmakers in both the houses of the National Assembly to adopt legislation changing their own tenure. (Onuah, supra.)

Under the current system, the president and state governors serve a maximum of two four-year terms, while members of the National Assembly can serve for an unlimited number of four-year terms. (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, §§ 64, 135, 137, 180, & 182, ICFNL [International Center for Nigerian Law] website (last visited July 27, 2011).) For Jonathan's proposal to be enacted, it will need to be “supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of [both Houses of the National Assembly] and approved by resolution of the Houses of Assembly of not less than two-thirds of all the States.” (Id. § 9, ¶ 2.)