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Third term: Presidency tackles bishop

Posted by Yusuf Alli and Chiawo Nwankwo on 2005/12/27 | Views: 567 |

Third term: Presidency tackles bishop


In spite of its denial of a third term agenda for President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Presidency on Monday said there was no need to change the nation’s leadership in 2007 for the sake of it.

In spite of its denial of a third term agenda for President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Presidency on Monday said there was no need to change the nation’s leadership in 2007 for the sake of it.

It also said only few Nigerians could fit into the shoes of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The position of the Presidency was made known by the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs Chief Femi Fani-Kayode.

Fani-Kayode spoke in Lagos in a response to a comment by the Catholic Bishop of Abuja Diocese, Archbishop John Onaiyekan, who asked the President to shelve his bid for a third term tenure.

Onaiyekan said there were over 5,000 Nigerians that could provide better leadership for the nation than Obasanjo.

But Fani-Kayode said Onaiyekan was not addressing the fundamental issue at stake.

He said, “We believe the distinguished archbishop completely missed the point. And the point is this. How many of those people are really capable of running the country in an efficient, just and equitable manner as is being done today?

“How many are capable of running the economy and fighting corruption the way it is being done today? How many are capable of restoring the fortunes of our great nation in the international arena as is being done today?

“As you know, we have tremendous admiration for church leaders, and of course we revere the church of God. But with all due respect, the suggestion that in a country of 150million people, only 5,000 Nigerians are capable of ruling is simply not true.When you really look at it, I am sure that up to one million or even two million are capable of ruling.

“But how many could have won us debt relief and debt cancellation as is being done today?

“How many could have boosted our foreign reserves, increase agricultural production, consolidate our banks and revive our manufacturing sector as is being done today?

“We agree that in every institution, whether government, a private company, a media house, a political party or even the church itself, there must be room for a change of leadership and at the appropriate time, such changes must come. But the quality, not quantity, of individuals that are capable of taking over then becomes the issue.

“And when you have a choice in any of these institutions, you don’t change leadership simply for the sake of change.”

Fani-Kayode said the Presidency’s interest in the 2007 poll was to avert the re-emergence of bad leaders.

He added, “It is not whether there are one million or 5,000 that can maintain a high standard or keep the flag flying. The fact of the matter is that judging from the type of bad quality of leadership that we have had in this country between 1979 and 1999, people will need to be extremely careful in making decision as to who should rule them in the future.

“This is a very critical point. We cannot and we must not allow ourselves to be taken back to the root and the degeneration of the past by anybody. We must cultivate courage to insist on the very best quality of leaders and we must insist on maintaining the very high standard that this administration has set, no matter what that takes.”

Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula, advised Obasanjo to be satisfied with the 11 years he would have ruled the country when his tenure expires in 2007.

Besides being in power since 1999 under civil rule, Obasanjo ruled the country between 1976 and 1979 as a military head of state..

The legislator alleged that those advising the President to perpetuate himself in office were public officers, most of whom he said, “did not win elections and may have no relevance outside party politics.”

Arigbe-Osula, representing Oredo federal constituency in Edo State, expressed his view in an open letter to Obasanjo, made available to our correspondent on Monday in Abuja.

The PUNCH, Tuesday, December 27, 2005

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