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2007: Why People Don't Believe Mr President

Posted by By Kunle Akogun on 2005/06/28 | Views: 220 |

2007: Why People Don't Believe Mr President


Since the return of democracy to these shores in 1999, it has been agreed among political analysts that one major way of ensuring the stability of the political system is to record smooth transition from one elected President to another as was done in South Africa when Nelson Mandela handed over to Thabo Mbeki.

Since the return of democracy to these shores in 1999, it has been agreed among political analysts that one major way of ensuring the stability of the political system is to record smooth transition from one elected President to another as was done in South Africa when Nelson Mandela handed over to Thabo Mbeki.

And it is with this expectation at the back of their minds that many Nigerians have elevated to the zenith the debate over what will happen in 2007 when the constitutional limit on President Olusegun Obasanjo's tenure expires.

Many have expressed fears that there are no indications that the expected smooth transition is about to take place. President Obasanjo himself had read the mood on the issue correctly by using several fora to reassure the citizenry that by May 29, 2007 he will be returning to his farm in Ota, Ogun State to tend his chickens and occupy himself with some other endeavours as a private citizen. On one such occasion while answering questions from the Cable Network News (CNN), the President said he was getting ready for his retirement.

He had also reiterated that position in one of his monthly media chats, an occasion in which he angrily dismissed cynics who doubted his position on the issue. Even while replying the visiting World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz earlier in the month, Obasanjo said the on-going reforms embarked upon by his administration can continue even when he would have retired to Ota as a chicken farmer.

However, upon all the assurances similar to the one given by a former US General, General Tecumseh Sherman who once said about his interest in contesting the Presidency: "I shall not answer, if invited, I will not run if nominated and I will not serve if elected," President Obasanjo is still not believed by many Nigerians. Many are still unsure whether the President is sincere about his intention to return to Ota in 2007 after vacating office as presently provided by the 1999 Constitution on whose provision he was elected both in 1999 and 2003.

But the great question is: Why is Obasanjo disbelived? Better put, why do many Nigerians feel there is a plot to make Obasanjo stay beyond the constitutional limit? This question becomes very necessary now in view of the fact that Obasanjo in 1979 became the first African leader to hand over power as a military ruler. Also, by 2007 Obasanjo will be the longest ruling Nigerian leader because he would have spent 11 years, 7 months, 12 days as the nation's number one citizen and as head of military and civilian governments.

However, it is believed that the reason why Obasanjo's promise of vacating power in 2007 is scoffed at by many Nigerians in disbelief is anchored on three points.
The first point is lack of a clear successor in place. As at today, none of the five or six men who have openly indicated interest in succeeding Obasanjo can be seen as the president's heir apparent, Khalifa or favoured son.

Vice President Atiku Abubakar who had been number two man in the administration since 1999 is apparently not in the President's good books owing to what some believed to be political miscalculations on his part. Many key Obasanjo confidants believe the President perceives his deputy as not too loyal and may not be too well disposed to his ambition. As for former military leader General Ibrahim Babangida, it is believed the President only used him to fight the Veepee and is not keen about having him as a successor. Also, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa who many thought would be the dark horse continues to grope in the dark as he obviously has no Obasanjo endorsement.

Also Governors Adamu Muazu of Bauchi, Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa and Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna who were said to have been encouraged into the race by Obasanjo are said to have failed in their bid to get a clear signal that will enable them fully flag-off their campaigns. In frustration, Mu'azu is said to be planning to redirect his post-2007 plan to the Senate.

A second reason why Obasanjo's reassurance on 2007 has failed to convince many Nigerians is the extensive nature of his reform programmes and their ability to continue to unfold even by 2007. And when the President replied Wolfowitz about what will happen to the reforms post-2007, Obasanjo mentioned three people who he said will continue the programme.

The three endorsed re-formists are Prof. Charles Soludo, Governor of Central Bank, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Mrs.

Oby Ezekwesili of the Price Intelligence and Budget Monitoring Bureau. However, the question is in what capacity can these technocrats ensure continuity of the reforms? They are not politicians and such programmes can only continue if the political leadership wants it so.

Another point which makes people to doubt Obasanjo's transition intention is the events at the National Political Reforms Conference (NPRC) in which some delegates are insisting on a 6-year one term for the Presidency.

This idea is being chorused more by South-east delegates and some other delegates with close links to Aso Rock. The believe is that the campaign for a six-year term has some subterranean inspiration from Aso Rock. It is believed that the South-east delegates were sold in on the agenda because of the promise that it would function on a zonal basis which will be kicked from the South-east.

Those who believe Aso Rock is behind the six-year one term presidency idea say if it is accepted at the conference, Obasanjo will then rally the governors to endorse it, as the experiment will commence with the incumbent office holders.

Also, it is believed that some other moves by the Presidency are indications that Obasanjo is manipulating the nation's political apparatus. For example, the recent appointment of Prof. Maurice Iwu, a close associate of Andy Uba, the President's loyal but calculating aide, as Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Another example, the recent changes in leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which put Obasanjo's men in control.

In all, many Nigerians who have witnessed the grand deception on handover of power under the Babangida and Abacha military governments believe that the best approach in the present situation is to take a promise to obey the constitution on issue of handover of power with some circumspection and suspicion.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.