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Full text of PDP statement on third term

December 1, 2005


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 Republic.
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 consideration”
(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.



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