Nigerian Senate rejects third term for Obasanjo

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed President Olusegun Obasanjo to run for a third term in office in 2007.

“By this result, the Senate has said clearly and eloquently that we discontinue further proceedings on this amendment Bill,” Senate President Ken Nnamani said after the vote.

The Bill was rejected in a Senate voice-vote after a debate transmitted live on AIT television.

The “noes have it”, the Senate chief had declared, triggering wild jubilation and back-patting among opponents.

Debate continued in the lower House of Representatives, but the procedure was considered a mere formality.

“Today, Nigerians have spoken and have defeated resoundingly the monster called ‘third term’. It is a victory for Nigeria, it is a victory for democracy,” Yari Gandi, a senator from north-west Sokoto State, said as he stepped out of the hall.

The Parliamentary debate on amendments proposed by Obasanjo’s loyalists had lasted several weeks.
The scheme was opposed by some politicians, rights groups, organised labour and a large section of local and international opinion.

Obasanjo, a former military head of state who was elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2003 in polls allegedly marred by widespread fraud, has not publicly endorsed a successor or stated any intention to run beyond 2007.

Under the 1999 Constitution, Obasanjo must step down in May 2007 after serving a constitutional limit of two four-year terms, but his supporters had been pushing for the amendment to let him run a third time.

Tuesday’s vote in the Senate technically put an end to that plan.

“As a representative of the president, I am disappointed in the sense that they have allowed the issue of tenure elongation to cloud the debate,” said Florence Ita-Giwa, Obasanjo’s adviser on National Assembly matters.—AFP

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