The Third Term Fever And CNN Credibility


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The Third Term Fever And CNN Credibility




Ibari Peterside




February 24, 2006



Morally resisted at home and treated with revulsion, the third term campaigners for the continuation of “almighty” President Obasanjo in power after 2007 have taken their absurdity before a wider international audience through the CNN “Inside Africa” programme. Perhaps, without realizing it, the CNN had played into the propaganda hands of the third term advocates, who wanted to ram the unpopular project down the throats of political and business leaders of the international community with the purpose of dubiously selling the dummy that, without President Obasanjo, Nigeria is doomed. They  are faithfully following the Abacha script of 1998 in which Nigerians were warned of the fatal consequences of not supporting the self-succession ambition of the  late General Sani Abacha. The only difference between now and then is that General Abacha was a thoroughbred dictator while President Obasanjo is a professed democrat!


For an administration like Obasanjo’s that has the lowest regard for domestic popular opinion, the support of the international community is crucial to neutralizing local stiff resistance to the widely odious third term ambition. Therefore, when they took their tendentious campaign to the CNN, wielding dubious moral credentials to confuse the judgment of international public opinion, Nigerians were not surprised in the least  by this latest sorry level of desperation to remain in power perpetually.


Unfortunately, even our mild-tempered  and good-natured Vice President Atiku Abubakar played into the hands of the third term advocates, who had sought to use the CNN programme to ridicule and malign this cool-headed deputy to the most obstreperous and self-righteous political leader Nigerians have even known. Even though both Atiku Abubakar and General Obasanjo were in active private business before coming to power in 1999, the programme mischievously created the impression as if the Vice-President was a pauper before his present status.


The lop-sided nature of the interviews, in which fanatical supporters of the third term project such as Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State had a free rein to unleash massive doses of propaganda on the psyche of Nigerian audiences of the programme, leaving many observers wondering the CNN could credulously fall prey to this cheap manipulation by desperate politicians. Was it by design or by accident that credible and  independent Nigerian public figures were left out in the interviews to assess the performance of President Obasanjo?


In fact, even in a sponsored programme, no credible medium such as CNN should surrender its editorial judgment for a mess of commercial pottage. How could anyone rationalize the subordination or bastardization of our constitution to serve the selfish ambition of a power intoxicated political leader? Flaunting cosmetic moral credentials before what they imagined to be a gullible international audience of the CNN, the third term promoters have only exposed the asinine nature of their logic.


Contrary to their tendentious agenda, the CNN programme had only heightened public skepticism about the wisdom, legality, morality and rationality of extending the tenure of a President whose term is limited by the constitution. What baffles most observers, however, is the fact that the third term madness is being pursued by agents of a government that has thoroughly exhausted its good will and the limit of population toleration through non-performance and led by a President who takes deliberate delight in deracinating whatever virtues democracy stands for.


The pro-third term arguments are as specious as they are insulting to the intelligence of millions of Nigerians. And as these arguments are becoming increasingly weaker in the opinion of most Nigerians, the third term advocates are now determined to sell their dummy to the international audience. It is high time the third term masquerade is exposed for what it is: the biggest political fraud in Nigeria’s history by desperate guys who believe that the fate of Nigeria should be perpetually be determined by  their selfish ambitions.


As far as Nigerians are concerned,  it is a case of once bitten, twice shy. The  increasingly widespread public distrust of the third term agenda is evident  of the growing disconnect between the President and the hapless citizens he despotically rules. While majority of Nigerians are groaning under the sheer weight of crushing poverty, the third term opportunists are making pretension of superior morality at a time millions of Nigerians cannot afford the barest necessities of life.


However, the 40-million dollar question that the amalgam of third term opportunists has refused to address is: why, despite their pretence to higher immorality, their project is receiving widening hostility and increasing popular derision?


Again, who told them that the anti-corruption crusade cannot be pursued without the third term or that there would not be prosperity without the continuation of President Obasanjo into office? Furthermore, who told them that Nigerians are so happy with their present state of living death that they would readily endorse the continuation of the President in office? Besides, are wisdom, patriotism, integrity, experience and knowledge the monopoly of the third term advocates?


As brilliantly pointed out by the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Jack Straw, prosperity for Africans depends on proper accountability of our oil revenues. Mr. Straw, who was in Nigeria as a guest speaker at the 30th anniversary lecture to mark  the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, struck a chord with his Nigerian audience. His evaluation of African leadership over accountability was an indirect indictment of the secretive manner in which our oil earnings are managed here in Nigeria.


Since 1999, when the Obasanjo administration was elected into office, the NNPC of which he is de factor Minister, has been shielded from public scrutiny. The National Assembly and the Revenue Mobilization Commission have been repeatedly frustrated in their efforts to hold NNPC accountable. Again, was it not President Obasanjo who cantankerously fired. Mr. Vincent Azi, a former acting Auditor-General of the Federation for indicting the Presidency for lack of transparency in the management of public funds? When he was disgraced out of office in 2002 for doing his job with integrity, courage and professionalism, Mr. Azi was strangely accused of “embarrassing” the government!


With these moral contradictions, who would be convinced that the third term promoters have no feet of clay of their own, let alone have the effrontery to insult our intelligence about their imagined virtue of superior morality? Are there no characters among the third advocates who should have been to the gallows where morality is a yardstick   in assessing the conduct of public office holders? Most of these guys are into this unmarketable project because they are discredited and, must therefore, support the third term project as the surest ticket to survival. They  have realized that they are dealing with a boss who pushes through his agenda through blackmail. In  fact, majority of these opportunists know that, in the theatre of their own conscience, they are confronted with a hostile audience. They know that tenure extension for the President is absolutely needless; they know that Nigeria can move forward without Obasanjo; but they have to keep pretending by tickling the ego of the boss.


One feels repulsed to imagine that a reputable medium like the CNN could naively play itself into the third term charade of President Obasanjo and his flunkies on the train of opportunism. Even if they detest the comparison, they are tarred with the same brush with the late General Sani Abacha, who had painted a ridiculous image of indispensability about himself. The same tricks are now playing out and some of characters who were notoriously active in promoting the Abacha self-succession are also part of present desperate effort to feed Nigerians with the bitter doses of imposing President Obasanjo after his tenure will have ended officially in May 2007.         




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