Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Not Yet Uhuru
culled from VANGUARD, May 21, 2006
I saw our erudite and inimitable Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, dramatizing how he was hopping all over his compound when someone called him from Abuja that the Third Term Agenda programme had collapsed. No, I was not at his home. I saw him on Channels TV. ut if you saw him too, you would not have missed the dance of a happy 68-year-old turbulent fighter for the strict maintenance of due process in sustenance of the democratic option we made in 1999. He had from day one been combative in pushing across what he thinks about anyone, any place, any issue. The programme to extend the tenure of the president and the governors did not draw one gramme of sympathy from the father of civil society. But I was not very comfortable with his total endorsement of what happened. I did rejoice myself, and called a few of my friends to tell them the good news, but thanks to our technological amiebo, the ubiquitous gsm, those I called were themselves trying to call me to tell me the good news. I am worried that this good news may not be as good as we think. I wish I am wrong in expressing this doubt.
Let me look at the situation from the angle of one who wants to see both sides of a coin. Here is a programme that the PDP had endorsed. The PDP is splintered but there is no doubt that many are rushing in there to seek their political fortune. Even those governors that have sympathy for other associations or groupings have been afraid to leave the party. That party is not the ACD version that pulled out because of their being deregistered. The deregistration was part of the agenda. What you have as PDP today is not that rally that Audu Ogbe was worried about. It is a political party which can be said to be the personal property of Mr. President. His word is law and the most loyal team anyone can hope for is right there to do his bidding - Ali, Ojo and Bode, to name a few of those who will follow Baba anywhere he wants them to be at.
So closely-knit as a family is the refurbished PDP that the consultation many of the National Assembly members needed to speak for or against the Third Term Project was the dictate of the party. In my own senatorial district, I was told there were no public consultations where decisions were taken that our Senator Kassim Oyofo, House members Abdul Oroh (Owan), Tunde Akogun (Akoko Edo), and Abubakar Momoh (Etsako) should support or not support the Third Term Project. But one of them told me, and why should I not believe him, that since the PDP had given the green light on where to go, and that is total support for tenure elongation, there was no need to consult!
I asked why and he told me that Edo North is a hundred per cent PDP. This argument may well have been pushed elsewhere. But the truth is that the instruction of the PDP in total control of the President that every member should endorse tenure extension, and the attitude of security agencies who are set on fire when they see opposition protestations against the project; and the undeniable movement of funds to ensure support for the project, all these unhidden support for a project that Nigerians opposed, point to another agenda when all of a sudden, the project is announced as dead. I am suspicious of the death of the Third Term Agenda. Oh yes, it is dead but how dead can it be when it is not buried?
Why would the Senate president make such a bold stand about everyone answering their fatherís names on the issue in which his party has decided to whip everyone into line? Would one say that the vice president who was deregistered had a hold on the party of which he had become a forbidden fruit? Why would Honourable Opara of the House of Representatives make profound pronouncements that would bury the project he had fought for, and which his state spent time and effort and funds to host? Was the kangaroo hearing in Port Harcourt not meant for another state capital in the South-South? The Rivers State Government took over the hosting on instructions, and where was the final report written?
Why have leaders of the South-South Peoples Assembly been dodgy about where the presidency should stay when in spite of the Calabar Declaration that the position is not negotiable because the zone must have it, the main promoters of the third term project came from the zone and the neighbouring South East! Why should someone not be worried that the same Opara was the one who took the microphone in the House and said that all constitutional changes should take effect after 2007 and that the president, vice president, governors and deputy governors who have served two terms of four years each must quit the stage! People rushed at him and gave him hugs of appreciation. I am worried.
Something must be happening that we do not know. The one who is our president today is a tested war veteran. They do not chicken out of confrontations. They are adepts at war games. But he was no theoretical soldier. He was sent to the Third Marine Commandos in Port Harcourt when we suffered reverses in that sector during the civil war. Biafra had recaptured lost grounds and encircled our troops in Umuahia. Port Harcourt was also being threatened. When it seemed that Scorpion Adekunle was at the end of his wits, Obasanjo was sent there. There was a lull in fighting for some three months and people were wondering what was happening. The fact was that OBJ, the general officer commanding, was back on the drawing board. When he did move, nothing could stop him until Biafra collapsed and Ojukwu rushed off into exile.
I do not think that the one who brought Biafra to its knees had forgotten war plans. Politics must have taught him to look at more options to issues, not less. So, when the going seems tough and rough, he can withdraw from battle to live to fight another war or the same war another day, instead of foolishly pushing himself to the precipice and dropping into the abyss, unsung and un-mourned. My reading of the Third Term Project setback is that those who so unashamedly spoke for termination of continuity when they had been its unrepentant apostles want us to sheathe our swords in celebration of victory. But I cannot see any victory in sight. Not yet.
The armoury of resistance to tenure extension must remain open. The storm troopers remain the media which have proved that what they did about Abachaís ambition was not a shot in the dark. They know what responsibility they bear to monitor governance on behalf of the people and they have done it again with the greed that has been the Third Term Project. Another phase of the battle will emerge sooner than we bargained for because I do not trust the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives who told us that there should be one term of six years for the president and the governors; that this should start in 2007; that those who have served two terms of four years each would not qualify, and specifically that our president and governors who fall under the category would be disqualified. Opara must be an oracle of the gods of manipulation. If he had not spoken, I would have joined the crowd of those celebrating the demise of a programme that was meant only to service those whose mission has been to be part of any government in power. But the speech, to me, betrayed the end of one chapter of the book of intrigue and the beginning of another.
If I were the president, I would do what I had a spiritual duty to do before I came into government. That duty is to restructure Nigeria to undertake its mission which has started and will show internationally within 25 years. Nigeria is the next world power and this power will be anchored on spiritual recognitions which those souls being downloaded into Nigeria now will manifest. If we move Nigeria forward on the current geo-political lines, the mission will be achieved with less pain. But if we donít, the changes will come in due time and President Olusegun Obasanjo would have lined himself alongside those who failed to achieve a cosmic mission. And it would be too late then to cry.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.