Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said on Monday that Nigeria would understudy the Mexican presidential system with a view to benefitting from the single term provision for the President and the Governors.
The Senate number two man, who stated this when he received the Ambassador of Mexico to Nigeria, Ambassador Garcia Moreno Elizondo, during a courtesy visit to him in Abuja, said that Nigeria and Mexico had a lot to learn from each other because they also have a lot in common.
Ekweremadu said that the two countries are blessed with vast territories, while they also practice as presidential and federal systems of government.
He said: “I’m aware that Mexico runs a six-year single term presidency known as the sexino. This is something Nigeria will be looking at because what we are doing now has a lot of difficulties.
“So, we are looking at a possibility of constitutional reform that can guarantee a single term so that the money we spend in running elections and the problem of chief executives struggling and concentrating to come back, using resources and instruments of state can be overcome.
“We would like to hear more from you on how the single term works and whether it has been beneficial to your system so that we can also collaborate in that respect.”
He further observed that the states in Mexico had substantial autonomy and their respective constitutions, noting, therefore, that “when we are talking about devolution of power, strengthening our federalism, Mexico is a place where we can look at.”
He added: “Presently, we are trying to see what we can do to empower not just states, but also the Local Governments, so as to strengthen our federalism. And part of the things we are looking at is to get autonomy for the local governments such that they are able to get their funds directly from the Federal Government to special accounts created by each local government. So they get their funding from the federation account straight to their own account in the various states.
“I used to get my funds directly from the Federal Government as a Council Chairman before 1999. But in 1999 all that changed with the introduction of what they call the Joint State/Local Government Account.
“Unfortunately, this has been abused in some states, but in some states, it has worked. In those states that it has been abused, what we found is that the state governments use those funds to do other projects they call common projects to the detriment of some local governments.
“So, we are now trying to reform that process in such a way that local governments will be strong again so that they get their funds straight from the Federal Government.”
He affirmed that the current National Assembly is committed to strengthening institutions of democracy such as the State Houses of Assembly.
According to him, the National Assembly is planning to place the State Assemblies on First Line Charge so that their funds are guaranteed from the consolidated revenue funds of the federation.
He said that such a development would guarantee that the lawmakers are independent of the state executives and rescue themselves from “he who pays the piper dictates the tune” syndrome.
He stressed that strengthening the nation’s Local Governments and parliaments would help in a big way in promoting checks and balances and deepen the nation’s democracy.
The Mexican Ambassador. In his speech told Ekweremadu that Nigeria and Mexico had the common challenge of improving the well-being of their citizens, which he said could only be effectively addressed with political stability and strong democratic institutions.
He canvassed political cooperation and dialogue at the highest level between the two countries adding that the national parliaments could boost and diversify economic relations.