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Debate Flares Over Proposal to Restore Parliamentary System in Nigeria

Debate Flares Over Proposal to Restore Parliamentary System in Nigeria

Since the start of Nigeria’s journey to civilian rule in 1999, following over 15 years of military governance, there has been a continuous argument about the most suitable form of democratic government for the country.

While some advocate for the current American-style presidential system, which Nigeria practiced from 1979 to 1983 and continues to use, others propose a return to the parliamentary system inherited from the British at Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

Proponents of the parliamentary system argue that it would eliminate wastefulness in governance and ensure accountability. They believe that a unicameral legislature, as opposed to the current bicameral system, would be more cost-effective and efficient.

In the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister is selected from among the lawmakers, representing the political party with the majority in parliament. Ministers are also chosen from among the lawmakers, reducing the cost of governance, according to supporters of this system.

On the other hand, those in favor of the current presidential system, adopted from the United States in 1979, argue that it provides checks and balances, preventing any branch of government from wielding arbitrary power.

They believe that absolute power corrupts absolutely and emphasize the need for each branch of government to act as a watchdog and check the excesses of the others.

The debate on the best system of government has recently resurfaced, with the House of Representatives discussing the possibility of returning to a parliamentary system. A bill proposing the transition passed the first reading in the lower legislative chamber.

The bill, co-sponsored by approximately 60 lawmakers from different parties, aims to initiate a conversation about transitioning to a less expensive parliamentary system by 2031. It suggests replacing the President with a Prime Minister as the head of government and establishing the President’s role as a ceremonial leader.

The proposed changes also include modifying the process of electing governors and local government chairpersons, shifting it to voting within the legislative bodies, to streamline administration and enhance collaboration between the executive and legislative branches.

The bill seeks to spark national dialogue, encourage public debates, and facilitate informed decision-making processes regarding Nigeria’s future governance system.

Opinions on the matter vary. Some, like Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the president of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), believe that while the parliamentary system may be cheaper, the current presidential system can still serve Nigeria if appropriately modified through restructuring.

Others, such as former Katsina State House of Assembly member Hon Yusuf Shehu and Alhaji Yerima Shettima, the president of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), support the return to the parliamentary system. They argue that it is more suitable for Nigeria’s diversity, less expensive, and promotes unity among states.

The debate continues, with advocates for both systems expressing their viewpoints and calling for a thorough examination of Nigeria’s governance structure. Ultimately, the decision on whether to return to the parliamentary system or modify the existing presidential system lies with the Nigerian people after a comprehensive and inclusive discussion.

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Blessing Temi

Blessing Temitope here, bridging the gap between the unfolding world and the power of song lyrics. My pen charts the map of current events while celebrating the artistry behind the music. Join me for a deep dive into the narratives and verses that define our times.

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