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ACF throws weight behind calls for Parliamentary System of govt in Nigeria



Nigeria’s political landscape has been jolted by the Arewa Consultative Forum’s (ACF) unexpected endorsement of a shift towards a parliamentary system of government.

The ACF, a prominent northern socio-political group, has traditionally advocated for a strong federal structure within the current presidential system.

Sixty federal lawmakers, led by Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda, had met with the ACF on Thursday with the aim of garnering support for their proposed legislation transitioning from the current presidential system.

Chinda highlighted the need for support from regions and other important bodies for the smooth passage of the bill. He emphasized that the parliamentary system would enhance accountability among officeholders.

In response, ACF Board of Trustees Chairman, Bashir Dalhatu, expressed satisfaction with the initiative and pledged the ACF’s readiness to provide necessary support.

“We have agreed to constitute a committee that will work with the lawmakers to review the draft bill they have prepared and provide suggestions and input. We believe this change will be in the best interest of all Nigerians,” Dalhatu affirmed.

Dalhatu echoed the sentiment that the current presidential system is costly and ineffective, emphasizing the need for a change in governance style for the benefit of all Nigerians.

“You don’t have to call it a parliamentary system. You don’t have to call it a presidential system. There should actually be some form of Nigerian system, African, which takes into consideration all of our values, visions, views and aspirations, that is going to work for us.

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“And whatever name you give it, we are going to be able to look at it and if we are happy and satisfied that it is going to work for Nigerians, we will support it.”

This recent stance marks a significant development and reignites discussions about potential changes to Nigeria’s governing framework.

The ACF’s backing comes after a growing chorus of voices from members of the House of Representatives, particularly in the southern regions, who have been calling for a parliamentary system. Proponents argue that a parliamentary system would foster stronger party discipline, enhance the legislature’s role in holding the executive accountable, and potentially lead to more stable coalitions.

The ACF’s reasoning for its shift appears to be multi-pronged. Some analysts believe the forum is concerned about the winner-take-all nature of the presidential system, which can lead to feelings of marginalization among certain ethnic groups. A parliamentary system, with its power vested in the party that commands a majority in parliament, could offer a more inclusive governing structure.

Additionally, the ACF might be aiming to position itself at the center of the national conversation about political reform. By endorsing a parliamentary system, the forum is demonstrating a willingness to consider changes that could address some of the challenges plaguing Nigeria’s democracy.

However, the path towards a systemic overhaul is fraught with obstacles. The current constitution, drafted in 1999, enshrines the presidential system. Amending the constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of the National Assembly, followed by approval from at least two-thirds of the state Houses of Assembly. This high threshold makes any constitutional change a complex and time-consuming process.

Opponents of a parliamentary system also raise valid concerns. They argue that Nigeria’s political parties are still relatively weak and prone to factionalism. A parliamentary system, they say, could lead to unstable coalition governments and frequent changes in leadership, potentially hindering long-term planning and economic development.

The ACF’s endorsement is likely to spark further debate and analysis. Political analysts will dissect the forum’s motivations and weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of a parliamentary system in the Nigerian context. Public opinion will also be a crucial factor. Nigerians will need to be convinced that a shift in the governing structure is the right path forward for the country’s future.

In the coming months, Nigerians can expect to see increased discussions about constitutional reform. The ACF’s intervention has undoubtedly added fuel to the fire, and it remains to be seen whether this will lead to a concrete push for a parliamentary system or simply serve as a catalyst for broader conversations about strengthening Nigeria’s democratic institutions.

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