Third Term: The Unravelling Of An Alliance?


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Third Term: The Unravelling Of An Alliance?




Igenewari Wilcox




April 12, 2006



Is the alliance put together by President Obasanjo for the realization of his 3r term ambition unravelling? It has emerged that contrary to popular opinion the outcome of the Mantu constitution review Committee’s deliberations has been giving Aso Rock sleepless nights.  True, it recommended the 3rd term for the President and Governors, the main assignment given to it by Aso Rock.  True, it recommended the removal of immunity in criminal matters for the President and Governors.  The President had decried immunity cover for governors (though not for himself).  But that very recommendation is unravelling the 3rd term alliance between the President and the governors that support it.  Another headache for Aso Rock is the recommendation, which allows independent candidature in elections.  On this the emperor is said to have so berated Mantu that the man nearly poopooed in his trousers.


It has now become evident to some third term advocates that they are not all singing from the same song-book.  You would have thought that by now Mantu would have gotten it into his big head that Baba wants the entire political space to himself; he simply does not want to contest against anyone in 2007.  He wants to become President again, only this time by acclamation.  Deep down he knows he is extremely unpopular and would lose to virtually any candidate in an election that has the semblance of being free and fair.


The President knew from the beginning that the Vice President was his greatest obstacle.  He had his own resources, and could finance his own structures and processes. It would, therefore, be nearly impossible to entice him with enhanced access to state resources, So the strategy was to gather all possible incriminating evidence of malfeasance against the VP.  And while that is going on portray the VP as very corrupt and therefore bad for Nigeria. After all every Nigerian and friends of Nigeria blame corruption for Nigeria’s horrendous state of affairs.


The President believed that the VP’s main structural strength were the governors.  These were not just PDP governors; loyalty to the VP cut across party lines.  Almost all the ANPP governors were in his camp as is the only AD man standing, Bola Tinubu.   Villa insiders say as far back as the last quarter of 2004 the President told all Presidential aides at a meeting in House 7 in the Villa that the Governors were too powerful in the Party and that he was going to change that. Of course he did not say that he was going for 3rd term; he was just a statesman concerned about the dangers of the concentration of power in the hands of corrupt Governors.  His views that governors were corrupt were well-known. In his world its is fine for the President to pocket the PDP at the national level but not fine for the governors to pocket it in their respective states.  After all he is the only anointed messiah.


So his work was cut out for him as it were. Humilate Atiku in any way possible and muddy his name so much so that he would be forced into resigning.  Intimidate all government officials including Ministers and Governors as well as those who secure or had secured favours from the government into isolating Atiku.  Collect dirt on the Governors and use it to blackmail them into supporting his third term. Today, Atiku’s office and house are said to be ghost towns.  Few people of substance visit him again for fear of earning the wrath of the emperor. And trust Nigerians and their short-sightedness and opportunism: every spineless person also uses that intimidation as an excuse for deserting Atiku because they think he is finished politically. 


The President’s real intentions have now become clearer to some of the third term Governors. Both those made promises of becoming the Vice President and even President as well as those intimidated and blackmailed into the project are beginning to see that the President is only working for one person – himself. Some are said to have heard what he says behind them.  Many of them, thanks to Mantu committee’s recommendations, now know that Baba’s intention has never been to go for third term with them but to use them to secure the constitutional amendment for 3rd term, get it to take effect during this current tenure, and then throw them into jail. That is what he wants to be his legacy now that the third term thing has become a mess.


Sources close to the President say right now he is less interested in staying beyond May 2007 then putting many of the Governors in jail.  They say he underestimated the capacity of his taciturn deputy to rally Nigerians to resist him; he underestimated the capacity of the North to unite against what its leaders consider a common threat; he did not anticipate the opposition to the 3rd term project by Western powers, especially the U.S. and Britain.  Said one strategist close to the project “We did not anticipate the ability of the opposition to stretch the process for too long a time.  The longer it takes the more likely some of the key supporters will drop out.  We should have struck when the iron was hot. If we sent a bill to the National Assembly about the same time that we began public hearings we would have had all the Governors on side and the whole thing would have gone through before they knew what hit them.”


He went on to say that “Now the outcome of those hearings is making some of them to have second thoughts.  My greatest fear now is that many of them will continue to reassure the President but will do nothing to persuade their legislators, especially those at the National Assembly.  They will be happier to kill it there. Then no one would say they did not pass it in their State Houses of Assembly. We should have pushed it through when the Governors were still very jittery and could not trust each other.”  But he still managed to end on an optimistic note: “It is a mess right now but I believe we will find a way forward.  We know our assignment and we will carry it through.  For me it is not important whether a Governor goes to jail or not.  I just want to complete my assignment successfully.  Mr President can do what he wants thereafter.”  


Apart from the strength of the opposition the third term alliance is suffering from a decline in moral caused not only by the seemingly imminent defeat in the National Assembly but also by what many members are said to have described as monkey dey work baboon dey chop. The baboon here is said to be Ibrahim Mantu the arrowhead of the 3rd term campaign. Some members of his Committee are said to be expressing disgust at being used to do a dirty work only for Mantu to take virtually all the money while paying them as slaves.  This is said to be fraying many nerves, with some saying they are taking big risks with their lives by working for the project while not being adequately compensated.  A good number is said to have decided to become passive supporters but would be unwilling to stick out their necks again for the project.  “There is no sincerity in this whole business and that makes me mad like hell,” one of them quipped recently.  But Mantu is said not to be bothered by the antics of his disgruntled members.  He is said to be only worried about how one man thinks; that man is President Obasanjo. Once Baba is happy with him, he believes every other consideration is secondary.


There is no doubt that the attention of both the supporters and opponents of the 3rd term scheme is now focused squarely on the National Assembly and that this will be a decisive period for both sides of the great divide.  Nigerians, no doubt, will be watching very keenly as well.



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