FEATURE ARTICLE

Eric AyoolaTuesday, March 14, 2006
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OBASANJO’S THIRD TERM AGENDA


here is no doubt that General Olusegun Obasanjo has achieved some notable goals in the seven plus year that he has ruled Nigeria as President. His achievements however are in dire jeopardy and in serious threat of being overturned by no less a person than the man himself. At this moment, Obasanjo’s worst enemies are not Anti third term opponents, not MEND, not pro democracy activist not even by the poor foot soldiers of the Nigeria police who wallow in poverty and penury, but the man Obasanjo himself. The greatest threat to Nigeria today in no other than the President of the Federal Republic.


In his obdurate and self serving quest to perpetuate himself in power, Obasanjo is undermining and threatening every thing that he has worked for. In fact, even if common sense and wisdom sinks into the murky thinking and logic of Mr Obasanjo, he has already done a lot of damage to the Nigeria polity by refusing to take the lead of leaders such as Mbeki of South Africa who clearly, honestly and unambiguously stated that he will not use his party’s political might to change the constitution of his country to grant himself another term. It is quite clear that Obasanjo is not of the same moral material as President Mbeki.

Some of Mr. Obasanjo’s mouth piece argue spuriously that he has not stated categegorically that he wants a third term. They blame his opponents for raising the tension in the country. Yet Obasanjo has not denied that he may well seek a third term either (once the constitution is changed). It is the most irresponsible leader who will allow such uncertainty in the country he purports to love without coming out openly and plainly to debunk the third term agenda if indeed he nurtures no such ambition. Nigerians would never again trust their leaders to leave office willingly after their term of office ends. Gowon did not want to go, Babangida was hell bent on perpetuating himself in office, Abacha wanted to become a life President (then became a dead one), and now Obasanjo puts himself squarely amongst this gallery of rogues.

To achieve his aim, Obasanjo will have to out spend and out corrupt all the leaders that have tried to perpetuate themselves in office before him. He will have to spend stupendous amount of money and offer irresistible inducement to Governors, Senators and House of Assembly members to have his way. Under Section 9 (2) of the 1999 constitution, the following steps must followed before the Constitution maybe be altered or amended:

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  1. A proposal for constitutional amendment shall be presented to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

  2. The proposal must be supported by two third majority of all the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

  3. After this, the proposal shall be submitted or referred to all the Houses of Assembly in the States of the Federation.

  4. The proposal must be approved by a simple majority of at least 24 Houses of Assembly i.e. two-third of all the States.

  5. After this, the proposal shall now be presented to the National Assembly by way of a Constitutional bill and shall be passed by a simple majority of the Senate and the House of Representatives (section 56 (2) and 58 (1) of the 1999 constitution).

  6. The passed Bill shall now be presented to the President for his Assent.

The inducement and the threats have already started to ensure that all through the way, the President’s wish is actualised. Apart from the exchange of massive amounts of money (a typical Nigeria practice), there is the mouth watering inducement that all you need to do to secure yourself another term as a legislature, senator etc post 2007 is to firmly nail your mast on to the 3rd term agenda boat.

Governors are equally certain of serving a third term since the constitutional amendment proposed is that the President and Governors should be able to serve three terms of four years each. Now show me a Nigerian Governor who will not relish another four years of his snout in the trough. Not only will they , the Governors, ensure that their states deliver 2/3rd at the state houses of assembly in favour of amending the constitution, they will in fact ensure a 100% support in the state assemblies to show how overwhelming “the peoples’ representatives” support the constitutional amendment.

Those who do not play ball and accept cash and political inducements will have EFCC on their backs. Since all Nigerian political office holder are corrupt, bar none, it will not take the Ribadu led EFCC much to dig up dirt on any of them. Now, one of the reasons that proponents of Obasanjo for 3rd term proffer is that he can carry one the anti corruption war that he started. They point to the achievements of the EFCC in nailing top notch government and public officials. Is it not the greatest of ironies that Obasanjo will now have to embark on corruption on a colossal scale to keep himself in office (in a bid to carry on with his fight against corruption), and if he, Obasanjo, where such a patriot who means well for Nigeria and who can not bear to leave his good and laudable work uncompleted, why would he want to foist one of the worst sets of Governors that the country has ever had on the poor people of the country for another four years?

Another question that the sycophants, the carpet baggers, the thieves, the corrupt and the outrightly ignorant people that swarm around the President fail to answer is that after the 3rd term, then what next? Another term and another and another? It is nonsensical and plain asinine for anyone to argue that after 8 years Obasanjo needs more time. Give him another 8 years and he will still not have resolved all the problems of the country. Rather than laying a good foundation as some would have us believe he is in fact laying the worst foundation ever. He his showing himself as a hypocrite, a President who uses the EFCC to punish his opponents and those that fall out of his favour, a President who fails to recognise the suffering of the citizens, and above all a man not to be trusted. Not at all different than all the unpatriotic rulers before him and of the same ilk as all sit tight African rulers.

In his auto biography, President Clinton, on the eve of his leaving officer, after eight meritorious years as President of the Unites States of America, wrote “Soon George W. Bush would be President of all the people, and I wished him well. ….I knew they saw the world very differently from the way I did and would want to undo much of what I had done.” He , Bill Clinton, then listed those things that he felt that George Bush and the Republican’s may undo. However, Clinton concluded by saying “But those were not my calls to make anymore”. Why can’t Obasanjo accept that with the best will and might in the world he does not have a monopoly of wisdom to turn the country from being a malfunctioning entity into paradise on earth, nor that he alone does not have the patriotic fervour needed to run the country.

He may feel that he is the best thing to happen to Nigeria, and he may well be, but what happens if after him, and with a constitution that allows three terms of four year each (meaning effectively a 12 years presidency) the next President is a thieving rogue like Babangida or a murderous cum thieving rouge like Abacha. Nigerians would then be lumbered with them for 12 years. Obasanjo has said that he is willing to die for Nigeria. Is this the only way forward for our country? As the Guardian newspaper of Nigeria said in its editorial, Obasanjo may seek martyrdom if he so desires, but does he have to drag Nigeria down with him in his quest for martyrdom? I don’ t think so. Obasanjo has to be stopped for the sake of the political amalgam called Nigeria and its poor, hapless, downtrodden masses. God help Nigeria.