THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION
Full text of PDP statement on third term
The current legitimate exercise of the
nation’s premier legislative body - the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY - to reflect
the yearnings of many Nigerians for necessary amendments to the
Constitution of the Federal Republic was bound to ignite national debate
as is the pattern everywhere else in the world.
Yet not many people would have expected that what ordinarily is the
normal constitutional responsibly of legislatures, namely law making and
when required, constitutional amendment, should in the case of Nigeria
become a major national distraction that has the capacity of blocking
out from the public consciousness every other relevant and productive
aspect of political activity and national life. Having regard to the
damage the unrelenting barrage of insinuations are bound to inflict on
our national psyche and body polity barely recovering, since 1999, from
an environment of mistrust and democratic failure, the PDP after its
28th meeting wishes to state the following Declaration of Principles.
1. PDP affirms the constitutional obligation and right of the National
Assembly to make laws for the good governance of the Federal Republic,
including amendments to the nation’s Constitution, in accordance with
the provisions already enshrined in the said Constitution for such
amendments, a process which normally would require public hearing, the
type of which the National assembly has been conducting, and of course
should continue to conduct.
In the exercise of such duties as lawmaking and constitutional
amendment, members of the public and other interested bodies including
Government at all levels, have a right, indeed a duty to convey
viewpoints and memoranda informed by past and current experiences that
will enhance the capacity of the National Assembly to improve on
existing legislations make new laws, and fashion a new constitution as
the need arises.
The PDP accordingly takes notice of the various lawful interventions and
efforts that have spanned over a period of 6 years from many individuals
and interest groups to influence the outcome of a. much sought-after
constitutional review, the climax of which included the report of the
recent National Political Conference, and the subsequent legislative
processing of this Report, together with other recommendations before
the Assembly for constitutional amendment..
The PDP salutes the courage and commitment of those groups and
individuals who considered the success of PROJECT NIGERIA important
enough for them to have submitted memoranda to improve the current
Nigerian Constitution that had been the subject of popular agitation for
wider input beyond the document that was adopted and presented by the
last military administration in 1998.
We would indeed urge many of our members and members of the public who
have an input to make in the current constitutional amendment exercise
lo please do so as an affirmation of our belief in tile RULE OF LAW and
faith in the people of Nigeria to determine their political future.
Let it be understood, for the avoidance of doubt, that as a party that
grew out of the crucible of a coalition established against
authoritarian rule and arbitrariness, our commitment to an expansion of
the democratic space cannot be compromised. PDP will accordingly uphold
the time-tested principles of legislative independence, Rule of Law,
representative democracy and will definitely not support any proposal or
venture that is neither democratic nor constitutional.
Let it be further understood that PDP will only give support to
proposals for amendments that are democratic, of general application,
and are conducive to the stability and good governance of the Federal
PDP National Secretariat notes with delight the existence of a
compilation of over 100 Amendments by the relevant Sub-Committee of
which the issue of Tenure is only one.
The Party notes that on the much-vexed issue of “Third Term” the
National Assembly Sub-Committee did nothing more than state that “Three
options emerged during the sub-committee’s deliberations. After
exhaustive discussion on the pros and cons of each option, no consensus
was reached on anyone’ of the options. The sub-committee therefore
recommends the three options to the main committee for further
(a) Retain status quo i.e. two terms of four years each.
(b) Two terms of five years each.
(c) Three terms of four years each.
We note as a Party that in none of these mere proposals (concerning
which no consensus was reached at Sub-Committee level and with prospects
of an uncertain reception at the full house,) no name (including
Obasanjo) was inserted as an expected beneficiary of any of the
proposals that may get through.
From the foregoing it is therefore difficult to see how any Third Term
obsession can be attributed to President Obasanjo or the PDP on the
basis of the records of what has transpired in the hallowed chambers of
the National Assembly, or indeed any other record anywhere.
Without necessarily endorsing at this stage any particular position of
the National Assembly Sub-Committee on any of the issues, it is clear
that the compilation of over 100 all1cndnlcnts to the Nigerian
Constitution was the work of eminent Nigerians duly elected as
representatives who in the months of dedication to their work of
improving the Constitutional infrastructure did not allow themselves to
be distracted by noises from the ill-informed or plainly ignorant,
noises aimed at mobilising around a phantom issue with intended
consequences for polarising the nation. It will be of great disservice
to such patriotic Nigerians in the National Assembly if some of them
were seduced by the prospect of a North-South polarisation, on the issue
of Tenure instead of looking ahead to what is truly best for Nigeria.
Nothing has exposed the poverty of politics of opposition politicians
more than their collective seizure of the mantra of “Third Term” to rail
against an administration whose performance in every aspect has earned
it great respect at home and abroad. The imagination of such incontinent
critics, nay-sayers and self-styled leaders of opinion lacks the
capacity to embrace any other issue of statecraft in which this
administration has been laudably involved.
We, as a ruling party, mandated by the overwhelming majority of
Nigerians to make Nigeria truly great will neither be deterred nor
distracted from our firm resolve to support President Olusegun Obasanjo
and his administration in the excellent and historic work that is being
done to bring peace and prosperity to all Nigerians for today and
tomorrow. Accordingly we urge our members in the National Assembly and
the 28 State Assemblies which we control, to continue to discharge their
constitutional duties for the purpose of consolidating the nation’s
current democratic experience, facilitate a level playing ground all
around, and usher in a new era of progress and stability through
legislations, and Constitutional amendments that reflect our history and
address our future.