Posted by By Charles Ozoemena, Emmanuel Aziken & Habib Yacoob on
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday that he was prepared to die in protecting Nigeria’s interest.
ABUJA— PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday that he was prepared to die in protecting Nigeria’s interest.
President Obasanjo receiving a delegation of Chinese investors in Abuja said “everything I do now is to protect Nigeria’s interest and if that will cost me my life, so be it.”
He spoke on a day senators launched into a hot debate on the alleged third term agenda with some of them vowing that the constitution amendment to pave the way for a third term would scale through the National Assembly.
President Obasanjo at his meeting with the Chinese said: “All efforts to check smuggling, corruption and ensure that other people respect the country would continue. We shall woo all the investors and create a conducive atmosphere for them to make a profit, but they should respect our laws. We believe we can grow our economy by 10 per cent every year, and if we sustain that for 15 years, we will become a middle strength country industrially,” he said.
Senators at war over third term
The alleged third term agenda of President Obasanjo yesterday sparked off a hot debate among Senators with Senator Kola Ogunwale vowing that the third term amendment would scale through the National Assembly and the President re-elected for another four-year term.
He was contradicted by Senators Saidu Dansadau and Sule Yari Gandi who in separate interviews affirmed a sustained strategy by opposition elements to derail the third term agenda.
The Senators spoke against the background of insinuations by Senator Arthur Nzeribe that the third term amendment would scale through the National Assembly if brought at this time.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday, Senator Ogunwale (PDP, Osun) said: “Third term is a realistic issue that should happen now because we need it. I am a Nigerian and I am entitled to my opinion and from all what I have come across since I came to the National Assembly, we need the gentleman to be there for another term of four years and of course, Nigerians have endorsed that.
“The public sitting has come and gone. It was not riotous, it was peaceful. People have aired their opinion and people we thought would be against it came out supporting it. So what are we saying about somebody coming against it?”
Affirming that the third term amendment was the wish of the generality of Nigerians as expressed during the concluded public hearing, Ogunwale said the only impediment to President Obasanjo’s re-election would be for the electorate to reject him at the polls. He dismissed perceptions of opposition to the third term from civil society and rival political parties, saying: “I wonder what you will expect your perceived enemy to say about you when you are achieving greater heights. The people who are saying this are merely rumour-mongers.”
Contradicting the possibility of an easy sail for the third term amendment, Senators Dansadau (ANPP, Zamfara) said: “Definitely, those of us that oppose it have not been sleeping and during the public hearings were strategising. So, I am optimistic that the third term will not go through the National Assembly. We have not been sleeping, we have been talking to our colleagues. We have mapped out our strategies and we are seriously working towards achieving our objective.”
Dansadau who boycotted the public hearing said holding the hearing at the zones contradicted the spirit and letter of the Constitution which did not recognise the zonal structure just as he added that the third term amendment was to serve the interest of the president and governors.
“Third term is not designed to serve the interest of this country. It is designed to serve the interest of President Olusegun Obasanjo and proponents of third term agenda and, therefore, I cannot be a party to it,” he said.
Senator Gandi, while dismissing the prospect of the third amendment in the National Assembly said: “Nzeribe is expressing his own personal view. He cannot speak on behalf of the Senate and each Senator represents a constituency. Every Senator will answer his father’s name and every Senator will speak exactly the mandate of his own constituents. No Senator can speak for another on this issue.”
Okediran doubts Reps on 3rd term
However, a member of the House of Representatives, Dr Wale Okediran, has expressed reservations about whether the House can stop the third term plot, saying many of the members were in the pockets of their governors.
He said even though he could not categorically say whether any one had been offered money or not to support the project, he was sure that there were moves to actualise it through the recent public hearings.
“Let me tell you that if the report of the public hearings comes to us, I am afraid that a lot of members may just opt for the third term,” he said on telephone yesterday.
“They are under the control of their various governors, and as you know a good number of these governors are also interested in going for another term,” Okediran said.
The legislator who is a member of the 2007 Movement opposed to the actualisation of the third term in the National Assembly said some members were determined, however, to stall the move. “We are going to stand against it nevertheless as a matter of principle by making sure that any attempt to amend the constitution under whatever guise is blocked,” he said.
Okediran who represents the Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Akola/Iwojowa constituency of Oyo State denounced the third term plot, saying leaders should take a bow without causing any controversy to themselves.
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