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Pro-Third Term lawmakers get N70m each

Posted by By Paul Mumeh, Asst. Editor, Abuja, Sukuji Bakoji, Bureau Chief, Kaduna and Donald Ojogo, Lagos on 2006/05/08 | Views: 2552 |

Pro-Third Term lawmakers get N70m each

For pro-third term lawmakers, Thursday was the day of fulfilment of a fantasy as they pocketed huge sums of money allegedly ferreted out of the treasury in a desperate move by the Presidency to see that the project sails through.

For pro-third term lawmakers, Thursday was the day of fulfilment of a fantasy as they pocketed huge sums of money allegedly ferreted out of the treasury in a desperate move by the Presidency to see that the project sails through.

The largesse is a response to Aso Rock's perception that the debate on the constitution amendment was not going on well as planned, and that the outcome may be disastrous unless something urgent was done.

Saturday Independent learnt that pro-third term senators collected N70million while their House of Representatives counterparts received the sum of N50 million to seal their positions on the debate and guarantee that they vote as expected.

The money allegedly channeled from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and disbursed through one of the surviving new generation banks in Abuja was said to have enlivened the camp of the pro-third term lawmakers.

Aso Rock was said to have become apprehensive over the debate on the bill at the Senate, which, at the close of session for the first week tilted towards the failure of the bill.

Disbursement of the fund was delayed until assurances had been secured that beneficiaries would not betray the cause, but sources claim that the largesse was doled out as a means of enticing more lawmakers to the pro-third term camp.

Scores of Senators believed to be in support of the third term had reportedly refused to make commitment openly until they had received the gratification, just as the house members insisted on getting their "due".

Money for the senators was allegedly disbursed from an office in the Defence House, Maitama, while that of the House was distributed at a popular hotel in Area Three, Abuja.

Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, chairman Senate Committee on Media denied knowledge of the largesse, blaming the allegation on rumour mongering.

Said he: "I don't even know where the (new generation) bank you just mentioned is located. The story is being peddled by those who want senators to take a particular position on the third term. Those spreading the rumour should tell Nigerians where those for third term collect theirs and where those against are equally collecting money from".

Security has been beefed up in Abuja especially at the Apo legislative quarters and the National Assembly.

However, anti-third term senators also initiated moves ahead of resumption of debate next week to win more converts especially those still sitting on the fence.

Debate on the bill continues on Tuesday in the Senate while that of the Representatives is expected to begin the same day.

Meanwhile, intense pressure being mounted on Emirs and Chiefs allegedly from the Presidency has left them confused on whether to go along with the desire of their people, majority of whom are against the plan, or do what Aso Rock wants.

Many northerners at the recent public hearings at the three geo-political zones in the North vented their anger and agreed that the actualisation of the third term would cause chaos and possible disintegration of the country.

Apparently caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, the northern traditional rulers have been holding consultative meetings but keeping sealed lips on the volatile issue which has continued to occupy the front burner of national discourse.

Saturday Independent reliably gathered that early this week, some first class Emirs and Chiefs from the three geo-political zones met in Kaduna under the auspices of the Council of Northern States Traditional Rulers to take a common position on the dicey issue that would not provoke their subjects.The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, who chaired the crucial meeting was quoted as saying, "it (the meeting) will afford us an opportunity to know the problems and interests of our people and serve as an avenue to discuss national issues generally."

Also, the National Conscience Party has accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of being the brain behind the controversial tenure extension for President Obasanjo. NCP's National Chairman, Dr Osagie Obayuwana, alongside other party chieftains at a world press conference said,"it would be recalled that Obasanjo has ruthlessly implemented the IMF-inspired privatization programme where key investments that represent Nigeria's patrimony have been auctioned off in dubious deals."

Traditional Rulers on Sunday, May 28, 2007, stressing that the step would enable them have an umbrella organisation to discuss knotty issues and foster closer ties.

It would be recalled that one of the resolutions at the recent meeting of the 19 Northern Governors in Kaduna was the approval of the Assembly of Northern Traditional Rulers to be established on May 28, 2007.

Meanwhile, some Emirs who are known to be close associates of the president have either kept mute or distanced themselves from the proponents of the Third Term.

For instance, the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, has refuted a recent media reports that his speech at a meeting during the installation ceremony of the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammadu Bashar, implied that he was in favour of the third term for his friend, the president.

In an advertorial in New Nigerian newspapers signed by Secretary, Zazzau Emirate Council, Alhaji Barau Musa Aliyu, the Emir stated that the media report was a calculated attempt designed to tarnish his reputation and good name.

Part of the advertorial read, "The Zazzau Emirate Council expresses its already known position that the Emir of Zazzau had never attended any meeting related to Nigerian Politics,least of all discussing the issue of the third term, since traditional rulers do not take part in partisan politics. The Council therefore challenges any person or persons to prove any partisan action or comment by the Emir or the Council on Nigerian politics.

"The said publications are false and perhaps calculated amongst other things, to secure for the publisher a remarkable sales, as they could not quote the name of the person alleged to have given the information after the meeting."

Indeed, Saturday Independent's investigations revealed that the third term bid would serve as a litmus test of the northern traditional rulers' concern for the collective interest of the subjects in relation to national issues.

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