Posted by By Abdulsalam Muhammed, Aliyu Dangiwa, Paul Odili, Emmanuel Aziken, Austin Ogwuda & Ayodele Adegbuji on
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo disowned publicly yesterday the on-going campaign to elongate his tenure when he said he had no hand in it.
*Achuzia, Kanu differ on tenure elongation
* Nnamani, Masari pledge on open voting
DUTSE — PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo disowned publicly yesterday the on-going campaign to elongate his tenure when he said he had no hand in it.
The President on the first day of his two-day visit to Jigawa State had been asked by a praise singer to continue in office beyond his two terms prescribed by the constitution.
Secretary-General of the pan Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze, Chief Joseph Achuzia, speaking on the third term issue said the Igbo would rather prefer President Obasanjo to remain in office to power retuning to the North in 2007.
But chairman of Ohanaeze Transition Committee, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), maintained that the Igbo’s quest for the presidency in 2007 remained unchanged.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Masari, have pledged not to shortcut the process of constitution amendment.
The praise-singer who was simply identifed as Baba, had exploited a security lapse to gain access to the President and other dignitaries at a function in Roni local government area and asked the president to elongate his tenure.
The praise-singer who spoke in Hausa language said: "Babu Ruwan Mu Da Constitution, Mun Aminche ka Chigaba har Tsowon Shekara shabiyu ("Baba Nigerians are behind you, disregard the constitution and hold on to power for the next 12 years").
The President looking embarrassed by the action of the praise-singer replied in Hausa and said "babu ruwana" ( "I have no hand in it.").
Earlier at the Informatics Institute, Kazaure, the President had applauded Governor Saminu Turaki’s untiring effort in making the state an IT centre in Nigeria.
He described Gov. Turaki as a realistic dreamer going by his resolve to achieve set goals, pointing out that the level of infrastructural development barely two years after his last visit convinced him that the programes is on course.
The President, who was also among the dignitaries that witnessed the installation of Governor Turaki as the 9th Turaki of Kazaure, commended the Emir for the supportive role he has rendered to the administration over the last seven years.
President Obasanjo said the Turaki-led administration had accomplished a lot. "I have gone round to see for myself the level of infrastructural development on ground. Turaki has constructed road where there was none, built bridges in some place to ease congestion, demolished existing structures to pave the way for such things, and you will agree with me that it would not have been possible without the support of the traditional institution," Obasanjo said.
He called on the former Foreign Affair Minister, Alhaji Sule Lamido, to work closely with the governor in the interest of the state, adding that the level of understanding that existed now between the two leading political light needed to be sustained with vigour.
We prefer Obasanjo beyond 2007, says Achuzia
Secretary-General of Ohanaeze, Chief Joseph Achuzia, has said while the Igbo will want to produce the president in 2007, they would rather have President Obasanjo running for third term if need be rather than have a Northerner emerging as the next President. Chief Achuzia an interview with Vanguard accused Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of seeking to destabilise Ohanaeze by forming a parallel body because the present leadership of Ohanaeze led by Joe Irukwu and himself (Achuzia) refused to align with him to achieve his (Atiku) presidential bid.Said he:: "We are no fools. I am a chieftain of Ohanaeze, the apex Igbo organisation. I have told the press many atime in interviews that come 2007, once the present holder of office of president vacates, it is the turn of the Igbo. It must be an Igbo man that will take over that position.
"Then from nowhere I heard another salvo being fired from the North that it is their turn that even the party, the PDP, had zoned it to them and no other person than the vice president comes up that it is his (Atiku) turn while at the same time his followers of what they call Atiku Vanguard made it clear that after President Obasanjo it is Atiku’s turn, which I repeat is not in the constitution.
"Yet, Atiku himself pitched himself against the president. He was asked to retire honourably if he does like the man’s policy but like a cat, he feels that he can survive the president."
Ohanaeze insists on presidency
However, Chairman of Ohanaeze Transition Committee ( OTC), Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, maintained that Ohanaeze’s quest to have an Igbo man succeed President Obasanjo in 2007 presidency remained unchanged, failing which the zone would back a South-South candidate, and that this declaration is not subject to any individual to determine.
Kanu, who was reacting to the statement by Col. Joe Achuzia, whom he said was no longer the Secretary-General of the group, denied knowledge of a N100 million being used to destablised the Ohanaeze over support for any person, arguing that the problem of Igbo land was more than the money being mentioned.
Continuing, he said of foremost interest to Ndigbo was the establishment of a federal system in Nigeria, which allows for justice, equity and fairness.
"Ohanaeze has maintained throughout the national political conference that the best arrangement that will ensure justice, equity and fairness is a federal system, especially in a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria. We have also maintained that it is in the interest of Nigeria that somebody from Igbo land now called South-East should exercise service in the highest office of the land," he said.
Open vote at N-Assembly
Each member of the National Assembly is to make an open declaration of his position on the proposed constitution amendments, Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani and Speaker Aminu Masari, pledged yesterday as they vowed not to shortcut the process of Constitution amendment.
Receiving a delegation of the 2007 Movement, comprising legislators opposed to the third term amendment in his office, Senator Nnamani repudiated reports that legislators were being bribed with vehicles to support the amendments.
Also yesterday, members of the 2007 Movement took their campaign against the third term agenda for the President to the embassies of three member countries of the United Nations Security Council, calling on them to prevail on President Obasanjo to accept the massive opposition to the elongation of his tenure.
Members of the 2007 Movement that visited the two presiding officers and went on the circuit of the diplomatic missions included Senators Saidu Dansadau, Sule Yari Gandi and Olorunnimbe Mamora. Members of the House of Representatives in the delegation included Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, the ANPP leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (AD, Lagos), Uche Onyeagocha (APGA, Imo), Cyril Maduabum (PDP, Imo), Francis Amadiegwu (PDP, Imo).
Receiving members of the 2007 Movement in his office, Senator Nnamani said: "We do not need anybody to appeal to us on how to amend the Constitution. The guidelines have been laid down in section 9 (2) of the Constitution and the Senate rules. These, we intend to follow rigidly. Section 9 (2) empowers the National Assembly to amend the Constitution in a manner that is circumscribed. By circumscribed, I mean that the guidelines have been laid down and the question whether or not we will obey the Constitution is out of it.
"When I said there was need to prune down the number of amendments, the truth has now come to light because we will follow the process prescribed in the Constitution when voting clause by clause. If anybody has another method of determining numerical strength without calling for a division let him come and educate us."
Senator Nnamani, however, appealed to supporters and opponents of the Constitutional amendments to bring caution to their campaigns, pledging that the Senate would bow for superior arguments.
Dismissing claims that the purchase of official vehicles were intended as bribes for the lawmakers, he said the cars were meant for the use of all Senators irrespective of leanings on the third term issue.
Also receiving members of the 2007 Movement, Speaker Masari of the House of Representatives, pledged to follow the due process without bearing on his own personal inclinations. "I intend to follow the Constitution when deciding on the amendments before us, no more no less. I will do justice no matter my personal feelings. Be rest assured that the rules will be strictly followed," Masari said.