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4 years, Not Enough?

“Four years is too short for a President or a Governor to embark on any meaningful programme because it takes about a year or two before the administration settles down even with the right set of Ministers or Commissioners. Then, if the latter turn out “not to be good”, after one year or two, the President or Governor is compelled to reshuffle his cabinet and by the time the new cabinet settles down, it is time for another election, and everyone is busy trying to win an election”

These are the reported words of President Jonathan at the May 26 pre-inauguration lecture, as captured by Dr. Reuben Abati in his article – “The Speech Jonathan Shouldn’t Have Made” (May 29, 2011).

It is baffling that at the onset of this presidential project, the manager already is convinced that the primary issue of concern is time. Worse still, the time concern is not about service delivery, but rather, of political decision making and testing the waters.

Typical project management frameworks require first that a project manager defines the Project Objectives and Strategies (POS) in alignment with stakeholders. Subsequently, a Scope of Work (SoW) is crafted out, detailing the work required to complete the project.  The SoW provides an initial answer to the question “What are you going to do and accomplish?” It is broken down into measurable deliverables with individual activities and tasks assigned to specific responsibilities. When activity definition and sequencing is completed via a project schedule/plan, it is then that the project manager can ascertain what the estimated duration of the project, associated costs, and resources required, will be. How then is it that Mr President decided to inform the public of the inadequacy of a 4 year term, just before inauguration? Has a scope of work been developed and made available? Or do we assume the grandiose pre-election manifesto serves this purpose? One would think not. 4 years certainly was never too short for the proliferation of corrupt activities by some, neither was it too short for past regimes, so what is it too short for?

An alternative method to project scheduling would be through constrained timing. Stakeholders constrain the project manager to a time limit. In such an occurrence, the PM is required to deploy his skill of work sequencing, resourcing and schedule optimisation to ensure that the project goals are realised within the constrained timeline. In spite of the imperfections of the 2011 elections, it became an example of project implementation under a constrained timeline. INEC was constrained to optimize resources to ensure a May 29 handover date. Some would argue then, that the time constraint became the undoing of the whole process and as such many managers would not willingly assent to such terms. However, this method of time constraint is typically deployed where there is urgency involved and the project must be brought to completion at a certain date, for strategic reasons. Would one be able to fault the fact that Nigeria is in such a state requiring urgent development? Perhaps the constitutional time constraint of 4 years is most needed at this time.

Any ideas for tenure extension must be premised on cogent arguments. Has the scope of work increased significantly? Where true, is it impossible to establish continuity of governance such that project deliverables are progressed by subsequent governments? The recent alleged argument of term extension to quell the violence that attends second term electioneering campaigns is weak and amounts to a lame excuse. A scenario of tenure extension to a single term of 5 or 7 years prevents the incumbent from re-running for office while giving additional time without the guarantee of performance. The rival candidates, who now realise that the price of battle is a longer term one-off contract, will go to the utmost extent, violence inclusive, to secure and maximise the ‘benefits’ of that single term. What this implies is a greater boomerang effect of violence.  With elimination of repeatability (via a single term), and a higher, more attractive price (5 or 7 years), the effort will magnify commensurately, with attendant negativities.

At a time when the world is clamouring for the emergence of Nigeria and Africa as a whole, the focus of government should be concentrated on the service delivery dimensions of speed, quality and dependability. While not compromising on the quality of our development initiatives, we must realise again that history is in a hurry and speed is of essence. Hence, the Goodluck generation, as aptly described by Tolu Ogunlesi, must get to the drawing table, to itemise a scope of work, achievable within the constitutional limit of 4 years. We cannot afford to waste time passing a constitutional amendment bill to change term limits and conditions. Such an act, amounts to a misplacement of priorities. While Boko Haram is wreaking havoc from the North East down to the Middle Belt, State governments are struggling to guarantee payment of a revised minimum wage, young Nigerians remain jobless in the face of mass unemployment, and kerosene supply continuously fluctuates, term limit extension is an evident strategic misfit, failing to address domestic needs.

Mr President, let’s put the numbers aside for a bit. Reveal your scope of work and what you intend to achieve reasonably within 4 years. Ensure prompt service delivery and let your achievements outlive your term. Reformers are not majorly known for how long they spent, but rather how well they performed.



16 thoughts on “4 years, Not Enough?

  1. Good question, I really wonder if the president has any plan for Nigeria. I really want to say “I told you so” to GEJ supporters but that wont be constructive. It is instructive to note that if a tenure elongation to 5 or 7 years is passed, Nothing, absolutely nothing stops the same constitution from being amended to multiple terms of 5 to 7 years. It could be the framework to build a Mugabe-type state in Nigeria. The president needs to leave the politics to the politicians and be a leader, Dear GEJ, we are waiting for the “fresh air” you promised us.


    Posted by Sir Fariku | July 21, 2011, 4:54 pm
  2. Hmmmm…Nigeria I hail thee…


    Posted by Banks Eniola | July 21, 2011, 4:57 pm
  3. Once term limits are tampered with once, it can always be tampered with again. And before we know it, a Mugabe is made in Nigeria. The 2 4-yr terms r perfect.


    Posted by Mark Amaza | July 21, 2011, 5:31 pm
  4. Agree totally! He should be more concerned with setting the ball rolling. I believe Nigerians are smart enough to detect if started projects are headed anywhere feasible and would produce results. He should spend his time starting ‘projects’, and working and it shouldn’t take too long for change to start ‘showing’ up seeing that Nigeria is in such a mess. Well written PM!


    Posted by 'ToyinArowolo | July 21, 2011, 5:53 pm
  5. *very soon, the nigerian yoot will lol – laugh out loud!*


    Posted by ire mide | July 21, 2011, 6:59 pm
  6. I know this is Slightly off-topic, but what about this Proposal?

    Having no Term Limits for the President, but the Electorate will have to Power to Vote for and against the President. The “Snap Elections” as more commonly known, instead of being started by the Parliament would be started via Petition of the majority of the Voters.


    Posted by somnsomn | July 22, 2011, 12:43 am
  7. I have always felt that the notion term limits, without the possibility of changing your leader seemed like a state of hostage, and also encouraged abandonment of the populace.

    The system that I proposed, for discussion purposes would remove the comfort and apathy aspect of elections, and at the same time reward high performing and non-complacent leaders with longer terms in office.

    Your thoughts please.


    Posted by somnsomn | July 22, 2011, 12:52 am
    • I’m not very sure about this proposal gaining ground in the Nigerian context…the electorate vote is always subjected to external manipulations…and so this system will end up favoring the incumbent leader. We need a system that constrains our leaders to deliver within a stipulated timeframe..perhaps the Snap Elections (need to check that up) works better in a parliamentary system…not presidential


      Posted by kunledurojaiye | July 22, 2011, 1:01 am
      • You are right. All elections are subjected to the external manipulations of the incumbent, even in america, as we saw in the John Kerry vs George Bush fiasco.

        Also, the issue of the incumbent abandoning the electorate after winning an election is also an international problem e.g Barack Obama playing down or ignoring his many campaign promises and the mantra of “change”.

        Many leaders lack the vision and will to cause change in nigeria (competence also, but this can be contracted) and these problems and this CANNOT be legislated.

        (Unless, we force ALL political leaders to aquire a POLITICAL LICENSE, which would be gained through time spent at a Leadership college, similar to a Military college or Law school for aspiring Officers/Lawyers. This, However, is another thing entirely)


        Posted by somnsomni | July 22, 2011, 12:15 pm
      • think about it..initially we said we wanted leaders who had tertiary education, and not just military training..now we have it…many of our leaders have also been trained at NIPSS, a well renowned leadership training school in Nigeria. Has this education and certification guaranteed performance? Yes, it is a minimum requirement for position, but not a performance guarantee. So a ‘political license’ in my opinion will not differ from education received already…a good leader is a good leader, irrespective of such. my opinion.


        Posted by kunledurojaiye | July 22, 2011, 11:34 pm
  8. The core is the failure of Nigerian government to critically plan sustainable programs; its too lame an excuse the time spent in settling down and the incidence of reorganization within term. Anyway with a cabinet made of re-appointed ministers this should not arise. The freedom of information bill if adequately utilized will reduce situations of governments claiming to be unaware of the reality of issues bothering the country. It is not sustainable continually starting again more so under the same party that has been in power for 12 yrs besides an elected officer with poor knowledge of the problems on ground and as such unplanned ways towards solving them has no business being there in the first place. We need to collectively, consciously develop long and short term plans else we keep wandering aimlessly in the forest till we seize to exist.


    Posted by Samestate | July 22, 2011, 1:29 am
  9. Four years is not enough indeed. Why not 100 yrs….


    Posted by Sayi | July 26, 2011, 8:54 pm


  1. Pingback: Are 4 year terms enough to achieve any beneficial changes for Nigeria? « The Nigerian Youth Forum - July 22, 2011

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