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Fresh bid to extend Obasanjo’s tenure… Reps PDP caucus meets President, Oyo denies plot

Posted by By Chiawo Nwankwo and Festus Owete on 2006/08/17 | Views: 850 |

Fresh bid to extend Obasanjo’s tenure… Reps PDP caucus meets President, Oyo denies plot


Barely three months after the National Assembly threw out a third term tenure bill, some members of the House of Representatives appeared to have launched a fresh bid to extend the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Barely three months after the National Assembly threw out a third term tenure bill, some members of the House of Representatives appeared to have launched a fresh bid to extend the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The leadership of the House of Representatives raised a 10-member committee on Wednesday to fine-tune the latest bid.

Obasanjo, who was re-elected to office in 2003, will complete his second term on May 29, 2007.

Although some attempts were made to extend the tenure of political office holders, the National Assembly on May 16, 2006 threw out a Constitution Amendment Bill proposed by the Senator Ibrahim Mantu-led Joint Committee on the Review of the Constitution.

Indications, however, showed that the Peoples Democratic Party’s caucus in the National Assembly has subtly initiated a fresh bid for an extra one year in office for the President.

Our correspondents gathered that two meetings were held in the last 24 hours on the latest move by the caucus.

It could not be immediately ascertained if the latest plot was at the instance of the President.

A source confirmed that the PDP lawmakers, led by the Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, and his deputy, Chief Austin Opara, held a closed-door meeting on Wednesday afternoon at the House Hearing Room 1, preceding the plenary session to articulate their position.

Suggestions that the committee was set up to examine the prospects of a supplementary budget were countered by its uni-partisan composition.

An inside source said, “behind the smokescreen, members are concerned about their political future.

“At the Wednesday meeting in the House Hearing Room 1, they discussed what they could do for the President in return for automatic tickets; a sort of quid pro quo that will give the administration one more year of consolidation.

“Of course, the issues of constituency project as part of the 2007 budget and a supplementary budget were also discussed.”

The PDP caucus is headed by Chief Mao Ohuabunwa.

Investigations revealed that the committee was asked to make the draft of the presentation to the Presidency ready by 5pm on Wednesday for the House leadership to consider.

Other members of the committee are Mr. AbdulRasaq King; Mr. Halims Agoda; Alhaji Farouk Lawan; Mr. Independence Ogunewe; Mr. Ehiogie West-Idahosa; Mr. Wole Ogunbanjo; Mrs. Sadatu Sani; Dr. Garba Matazu; and Mr. Chinyerem Macebuh.

Ohuabunwa, who spoke to our correspondents shortly after the meeting, denied that the session focused on the alleged plan to resurrect the third term agenda.

He said, “We discussed the legislators’ relationship with the Executive (president), and the party and members’ constituency projects in the 2007 budget.

“The meeting had nothing to do with the third term.”

On his part, a top member of the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation, said, in confidence, that the meeting discussed the role of the President as an unbiased umpire in the 2007 poll; the return of majority of the members to the House in 2007 for enhanced legislative conduct and constituency projects.

He added, “The third term bid was not discussed.”

An influential member of the PDP caucus, who also pleaded anonymity, also denied that the third term agenda came up at the meeting.

He said, “Members were directed to be prepared about how to respond if such issue (tenure extension) comes up at the Presidential Villa whenever the PDP caucus meets with the President.”

On the 10-man committee, he said the panel would only harmonise the views of caucus members on the issues considered at the Wednesday meeting.

Despite the denial the President on Wednesday met with the PDP caucus at the old Presidential Villa, Aguda House, in Abuja.

The outcome of the meeting, which began at about 7pm was not clear at the time of filing this report.

A top source in Abuja gave an insight into the meeting.

He said that available information showed that the President sought to rebuild bridges with the lawmakers, having burnt them in his pursuit of third term.

He said, “It was thought early on that the President might bring up the issue of an additional period for his tenure, may be six months, with the Reps. But the possibility was being discounted as the forum appeared to be inappropriate.

“However, it is not ruled out that a smaller meeting with him, made up of principal officers, might be warranted at the end of the interactive session tonight.”

However, the President’s Senior Special Assistant (Media), Mrs. Remi Oyo, denied the alleged plot to extend the President’s tenure.

She explained that the meeting that Obasanjo had with the PDP caucus was a continuation of his consultative programme to brief all members of the different segments of the country on how to make life better for the people.

She said, “He (Obasanjo) felt there was a need to brief his party on what he is doing. In fact, there were presentations from different ministers on what the government is doing.

“There were more than 200 people there, you can find out what transpired at the caucus meeting. There was no discussion on what you are saying.”

Meanwhile, the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, has asked politicians in the South-East and South-South to dialogue with their counterparts in the North over the zone that would produce the party’s presidential candidate.

Ali, who spoke when leaders of the Southern Forum visited him in Abuja on Wednesday, also said the debate on the zone that would fly the party’s flag would not have risen if the National Assembly had passed a bill seeking an amendment to the 1999 Constitution.

The bill had among other things, sought the extension of Obasanjo’s tenure by a single term of four years.

Ali said, ”I believe that intelligence is evenly distributed in all zones in this country. Nobody has the prerogative of intelligence, that being so, we expect elders like you,to put your heads together, meet your counterparts from the other parts of the country and slug it out.

“If you cannot do it by word, if it is your walking stick that you will use, use it and give us a solution.

”One thing I can guarantee you, is that at the appropriate time, the PDP will do what is fair and equitable for this nation.”

He warned against attempts to slow down the progress of the country, pointing out that it would amount to “going back to where we started.”

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Comments (8)

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Obinna(Newark Nj)says...

I want to know more meaning and significant of this name obidike in igboland

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Olusola Okhiria Nee Sodunke(Newport, Newport, UK)says...

This is a great piece of history, which is dear to our hearts as people and very much appreciated.

Many thanks to the people who worked hard in the past and those who are still making efforts to keep the institution.

The labour is obviouly worth it. We are proud of you all.

A lot still to be done, with the motivation of the champions of this course, others will follow as well to maintain the institution

May God continue to keep the edifice for development of future generations to the glory of God and the benefits of our fatherland.

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.