71 members of the House of Representatives on Thursday commenced a process to revert Nigeria to parliamentary system of government away from the current presidential system of government.
The lawmakers jointly sponsored a bill, which passed for first reading on the floor of the house, seeking to alter the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Briefing newsmen after plenary, the Deputy Chairman of the group of lawmakers, Hon. Nicholas Ossai, said that the position of the lawmakers in the legislation clearly pointed to the compelling advantages of parliamentary system of government.
According to him, studies have shown that countries run by presidential system of government consistently produce lower growth rate and higher inflation.
The lawmaker said that there was also a greater income inequality in economies under presidential system compared to the parliamentary system, as the rich got richer while the poor get poorer.
Ossai said records showed that output growth under presidential system were sub-zero, while those under parliamentary systems were from one point and above.
He added that in countries run under presidential systems inflation was on average six per cent point, higher than those under parliamentary systems.
According to him, this is due to the excessive powers domiciled in one man under the presidential system, as consensus building that was often required for economic decision was always lacking.
The legislator further stated that economies of nations were known to thrive on the confidence of investors in the system and character of the government.
He said: “The instability and volatility of presidential systems make it difficult to achieve these economic objectives.
“Over-centralisation of government decisions that are prevalent in presidential systems obstructs economic development when compared to the parliamentary or hybrid systems.”
He also said that the presidential system was often not conducive to consensus building, which is known to have favourable effects on the economy.
Ossai added that the parliamentary system helped in quick passage of economic bills, due to the fusion of power that it embodies.
He said: “The decentralisation of powers in parliamentary system helps to douse tensions in countries, including Nigeria, where ethnicity, race, religious differences and ideological divisions are prevalent.
“Thereby, promoting peace and unity, which are ingredients for economic growth and development.”
The lawmaker noted that 169 countries made 123 changes in the form of government they practised within the period 1950 and 2003.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that these countries include 10 post-Soviet Union countries, moving from presidential to parliamentary systems in the 1990s as well as 10 countries in North Africa and Middle East, switching in opposite directions since 1950s.
Ossai recalled that, more recently, France made changes to its constitution in the direction of parliamentary systems.
He said constitutional reforms had been on the agenda in a number of countries in the Middle-East since the 2011 Arab spring