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We were offered $1m each to back third term – AD leader

Posted by Chiawo Nwankwo, Musililu Mojeed and Ibanga Isine, Abuja on 2006/04/12 | Views: 967 |

We were offered $1m each to back third term – AD leader

Members of the House of Representatives may have been offered $1million each by forces within and outside the National Assembly to support the controversial move to extend the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo and governors beyond 2007.

Members of the House of Representatives may have been offered $1million each by forces within and outside the National Assembly to support the controversial move to extend the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo and governors beyond 2007.

The Leader of the Alliance for Democracy in the House, Mr. Wunmi Bewaji, who disclosed this to our correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday, said he was also promised an oil block.

He, however, said he spurned the offers.

Bewaji, one of the arrowheads of the opposition to third term in the House, spoke against the backdrop of information that the Presidency was determined to break the ranks of the 31 AD members in the House.

He said, “They came and told me that they have provided $1million for each of us opposed to third term, like they provided for those in support.

“In my case, they said they we_re going to offer me an oil bloc in addition to $1million. But I told them that it is not a question of what I am going to gain. But mine is to ensure that we do not only have peace and stability in the country, but to protect our renascent democracy.”

He declined to disclose the names of those who made the offer.

Bewaji, however, said, “The offer was made by some of my colleagues in the House working for the Presidency.

“It (the offer) was made in the chamber of the House of Representatives.”

On when he was approached by the agents, he simply said, “two days ago.”

He rebuffed another enquiry on the exact day.

Probed further, he explained that the offer came after a stalwart of the PDP met with some members of the opposition parties in the House.

On the oil block, Bewaji added, “It is a design made for principal officers of the House.”

But a principal officer of the House, who spoke in confidence, said Bewaji’s claim was baseless.

He said, “That story is fake. Even on the money they promised us, members are tired of waiting for it.”

Claiming that anti-third term legislators in the National Assembly were now in the majority, Bewaji vowed that breaking the ranks of AD would be impossible.

“Two weeks ago, we were 50-50 (per cent), but in the last few days, some of those who were on the other side have joined us,” he explained.

Bewaji said that those promoting third term were exploiting primordial sentiments and the North/South divide in the polity.

He added that he told those selling the agenda to show him what “Obasanjo has done for the South or the country in almost seven years that he has been in power that would make anybody ask him(Obasanjo) to continue in office.”

Three other AD members in the House also confirmed that internal and external pressures had been put on the legislators.

One of them, who spoke in confidence, said the governor of his state spoke with him for about three hours on Wednesday, trying to persuade him to support tenure extension.

He also claimed that a minister from one of the South-West states had been directed by the Presidency to secure AD lawmakers’ support for the agenda.

He added that Bewaji sent text messages to the AD lawmakers on Wednesday, advising them to watch out for the moves to split their ranks.

Another AD member from Lagos State said two Representatives from Delta and Edo states had started lobbying other members of the House on Wednesday.

The AD lawmaker said, “Yes, I can confirm that mouth-watering cash offers have been made to us to support the third term agenda.”

Professor Sola Adeyeye, another AD member in the House, said he was aware of the overtures by South-West governors to some of his colleagues.

Adeyeye said, “If you know what the South-West governors are doing, they would be reckoned as the worst in the history of this country when the time comes. But I can tell you that they will fail.”

Meanwhile, a militant group, the Niger Delta Salvation Squad, has warned members of the National Assembly from the South-South against backing third term.

The group, in a letter allegedly sent to some of the lawmakers, said, "We have been watching with dismay and indescribable disappointment, your activities and utterances since the third term saga took root.

"For your willingness to sign-off the destiny of the present and future generations of the Niger Delta people to perpetual political and economic slavery for filthy lucre and personal aggrandisement, we are extremely angry.”

The letter, which was signed by the leader of the group, Mr. Balafama Brave, stated that giving support for the extension of the President's tenure would rob the zone of an opportunity to field a candidate for the country's top job.

Also on Wednesday the House of Representatives decided to consider a law to bar the Independent National Electoral Commission from using any electronic voting device during the 2007 poll.

The House, while considering the 2006 Electoral bill, introduced a new sub-section to Clause 5 of the proposed law which indicates that it shall be illegal for INEC to use any electronic voting device in any of the country’s elections.

Alhaji Idris Umar, who moved a motion for the introduction of the new sub-section, argued that Nigerians, especially those in rural areas, would find it difficult to use such device.

Mr. Dati Baba Ahmed said that INEC must desist from any attempt to breach the constitution through the introduction of a voting system not recognised by the laws of the land.

He said that the 1999 Constitution clearly stipulated how elections should be conducted in the country.

Mr. Peter Orimoloye also spoke against the introduction of the new voting system.

Before the Deputy Speaker of the House, Chief Austin Opara, put the question on the new sub-section to Clause 59, Mr. Olaka Nwogu, called members’ attention to the fact that the world had changed and new technologies had replaced old ways of doing things.

“Mr. Chairman, I think we are taking this issue too far. What we are doing would amount to an over-kill and I wish to caution that we should not just discard the idea of introducing electronic voting system in the country,” Nwogu said.

Mr. Celestine Ughanze also spoke against the decision of the House to bar INEC from using a system considered effective for the country.

The Chairman of the Committee on Justice, Mr. Alex Nwofe, also put the House on notice based on provision of the constitution, which empowers INEC to conduct elections in the country.

He called for caution on the part of the House in order not to breach the constitution in the process of lawmaking.

When Opara finally put the question on the motion, majority of members, in a voice-vote, supported the clause to bar INEC from adopting the EVM.

The Punch, Thursday April 13, 2006,

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown