July 26, 2011 / 5:58 PM / in 6 years

Nigeria's Jonathan wants single, longer presidency term

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said on Tuesday he will send a constitutional amendment bill to parliament aimed at changing presidential and state governorship tenures to a longer, single term.

President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, addresses diplomats gathered in the UN General Assembly for the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS at UN Headquarters in New York June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Nigeria’s president and governors of the 36 states in Africa’s most populous nation now serve a maximum of two four-year terms, running for re-election between terms.

The statement from the presidency said this would not affect Jonathan’s own tenure and would come into effect from 2015, if enacted into law by the national assembly. The statement did not say how long the new single-term would last.

The law would make politicians less focused on being re-elected and more concerned with governance and would reduce the costs incurred by elections, the presidency said.

“President Jonathan’s commitment to a single term for the president and governors is borne out of a patriotic zeal, after a painstaking study and belief that the constitutionally guaranteed two terms is not helping the focus of governance and institutionalization of democracy at this stage of our development,” a statement from the presidency said on Tuesday.

The statement said it would also benefit Nigeria for lawmakers to change their tenures but this would be for members of the national assembly to determine.

Jonathan won a presidential election in April that many Nigerians and international observers said was the fairest the country has held since the end of military rule in 1999.

It was also one of the bloodiest.

More than 800 people were killed and 65,000 displaced in three days of violence following the vote after rioting erupted in the mostly Muslim north after Jonathan, a Christian from the south, was declared the winner.

“President Jonathan is concerned about the acrimony which the issue of re-election, every four years, generates both at the federal and state levels,” Tuesday’s statement said.

“The nation is still smarting from the unrest, the desperation for power and the overheating of the polity that has attended each general election.”

Jonathan’s campaign was controversial due to an unwritten “zoning” agreement within the ruling People’s Democratic Party which says power should rotate between the north and largely Christian south every two terms.

Jonathan’s campaign broke this pact because he inherited the presidency from Umaru Yar‘Adua, a northerner, who died halfway through what would have been the first-term for the north.

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