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Published On: Thu, Aug 13th, 2020

Still on term limits for VP, deputy govs

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President Muhammadu Buhari, recently signed into law a bill that limits a vice-president or deputy governor who completes the term of their principals to election only once. It is one of 4 election related bills he signed on June 9.

Then Presidential Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, speaking on the first bill (#16), said the new legislation would ensure that “a vice president or deputy governor who succeeds and completes the tenure of a president or governor can only run for the office one more time. (The point) “is that) having taken the oath as President once, you can only contest once again and no more. That is the intent of this amendment.”
Before now, the practice was for the vice president or deputy governor to finish his principal’s term and go on to run for two more terms. Former President Goodluck Jonathan benefitted from that old constitutional arrangement. He succeeded President Umaru Musa Yar’adua who died in office in 2010. He won the Presidential election of 2011 and ran again in 2015, losing to today’s incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr. Enang also announced an alteration to the law governing the conduct of by elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The umpire now has up to 21 days to do so. Before it was given only seven days. “This amendment number 9, now an act, gives the Independent National Electoral Commission sufficient time to conduct by elections. It has increased the time from seven to 21 days and generally widened the latitude of the Independent National Electoral Commission to handle election matters upon vacancy occurring.” He said “There is another of the acts which has come into force today, Constitution Amendment Number 21 which relates to the determination of pre-election matters. It has reduced the date and time of determining pre-election matters to ensure that pre-eletion matters in court do not get into the time of the election and do not pend thereafter. The relevant sections of the Constitution had also been amended by this act.”

We welcome these constitutional changes, coming as they are 21 years after the 1999 federal constitution took effect. Under it, we have had over 20 years of uninterrupted democratic rule. There have been bumps here and there, not totally unexpected. It is all a learning process. The aim is that as we stumble along, we shall learn. What is learnt should enrich the Constitution and so deepen our democracy. We expect more of such changes in the near future. The next one should give the third tier of government (local administration) its independence.
He did not state the number of days in the new act.

“There is another of the act which has come into force today is Constitution amendment number 21 which relates to the determination of pre-election matters. It has reduced the date and time of determining pre-election matters to ensure that pre-eletion matters in court do not get into the time of the elections and do not pend thereafter. The relevant sections of the Constitution had also been amended by this act, therefore amending the Constitution.”

Mr Enang also announced that an amendment to bill number 16, already assented to by the President, will now ensure that a vice President or a deputy governor who succeeds and completes the tenure of a president or governor can only run for the office one more time.

“The other one is Act or Bill number 16 which is now an act and the intent of that act is to ensure that where a Vice President succeeds that president and where a deputy governor succeeds a governor, he can no more contest for that office more than once more.

“And the fact is that having taken the oath as President once, and you can only contest for once again and no more. That is the intent of this amendment.”

Before this assent, such vice presidents or deputy governors, after completion of their predecessors’ term can run for office on another two terms.

This was the case with former President Goodluck Jonathan who succeeded President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010, contested and won the presidential election in 2011 and still contested same office in 2015.
The new law will prohibit this, Mr Enang announced.
He also announced an alteration to the law governing the conduct of bye-elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said INEC will now have up to 21 days to conduct bye-elections instead of seven.

“The other amendment is Bill number 9 now an act which gives the Independent National Electoral Commission sufficient time to conduct bye elections. It has increased the number from seven to 21 days and generally widened the latitude of the Independent National Electoral Commission to handle election matters upon vacancy occurring.

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