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Akinyemi faults push for return to parliamentary system

A former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has faulted the recent move by some lawmakers to return Nigeria to parliamentary democracy.
Akinyemi, who noted that the current presidential system is not as defective as being painted in some quarters, blamed politicians for the rot in the system.

In his keynote address at the Songs of Nigeria Festival awards ceremony (SONIFES) in Abuja, the former minister faulted claims that Nigeria’s presidential system is prohibitively expensive, saying that “it is the human beings operating the presidential system that make it costly” through inflated compensation.

He, therefore, called on Nigeria to identify its democratic shortcomings and formulate its model of “Nigerian federalism” rather than attempting to imitate foreign federal structures.

In his words: “We also must not confuse structure with human personalities. We talk about the presidential system being so costly that we cannot afford it, and therefore we must go back to parliamentary system. Are we really serious about that?

“Is it the presidential system that determines the salaries of our National Assembly members? No, it is the human beings, who are operating the system, and who decide to make the presidential system costly.

“It is the people we voted into power that decide exactly how much they are paid and how much their allowances are. If we decide to cut the salaries and allowances of the executive and lawmakers by one-third, we will find out that the presidential system is not as expensive as we have made it.

It is just sheer laziness. We run away from the problem and then with an attempt to decide to people, we come up with solutions and that solutions are going to be put together by human beings who will decide what the salaries of the prime minister and parliamentarians will be,” he said.

The diplomat also accused state governments of financially stifling and undermining local council authorities in contravention of democratic principles of governance.

SONIFES ‘24 President, Dr Elizabeth Ben-Iheanacho, hailed the silver anniversary as a milestone worthy of commemorating Nigeria’s democratic journey through its rich cultural traditions.

“Our songs, festivals, music, films, theatre, dances and traditional institutions have been the bulwark of making democracy in Nigeria the collective experience of the people,” Ben-Iheanacho stated.

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