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3rd term: Atiku, Gani, others applaud Senate’s decision

Posted by By FEMI BABAFEMI, Lagos, ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, JAMES OJO and BASHIR UMAR, Abuja on 2006/05/17 | Views: 415 |

3rd term: Atiku, Gani, others applaud Senate’s decision


The decision of the Senate to throw out the controversial constitution amendment bill which among other things seeks to elongate the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo has been attracting commendations from prominent Nigerians including Vice President Atiku Abubakar and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN).

The decision of the Senate to throw out the controversial constitution amendment bill which among other things seeks to elongate the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo has been attracting commendations from prominent Nigerians including Vice President Atiku Abubakar and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN).

In his reaction, Vice President Abubakar congratulated the Nigerian Senate for its historic decision to dump the third term agenda, adding that the decision of the Senate has rekindled the confidence of Nigerians in the workability and sustainability of democracy.

"The decision is one of the best things to happen to Nigeria. It confirms the place of the legislature as the true representative of the people. It confirms that democracy has a teaming army of believers and converts, who will defend it even in the face of inducement, blackmail, harassment, threat and intimidation. It confirms that Nigeria has a crop of politicians who will stand up to be counted on the defence of democracy, rule of law and due process."

"Everybody deserves commendation. As we celebrate our Senate, we should also commend our former heads of state; our patriotic media, the relentless civil society, the progressive political parties and the observant international community for rising up to the occasion to save Nigeria from the subversion of its democracy.

"The people have spoken and the people have won. This is a victory for democracy and a victory for the people." To those who lost the argument, the Vice President said they should see it as a triumph of democracy and a wake-up call to align with the wishes of the electorate. Let there be no bitterness on either side. "We can least afford this (bitterness) in the course of service to our people," he stated.
While Fawehinmi described the defeat of the third term agenda as a victory for democracy, former member of the upper legislative chamber, Senator Joseph Waku said the decision of his colleagues has restore the confidence of Nigerians in the Senate.

In his reaction, constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay said the Senate’s action marked the country’s freedom from tyranny and sit-tight syndrome, while a group working for the presidential ambition of former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, described the event as a welcome development.
While speaking with Daily Sun on the issue, Fawehinmi said the Senate’s decision to stop the bill is a resounding victory for democracy and a total deflation of dictatorship.

According to him, President Obasanjo "has so crashlanded in his bid for a sit-tight presidency that he should bury his head in shame. His pride has evaporated, his dignity has been destroyed, and his respect nationally and internationally has been demystified.
"He has become a caricature of an obstinate and an arrogant demon. The man who professes to know all has been proven to be a foolish low ranger without any compact of reasonableness and respectability."

He added that the development "has proven that money can’t speak for honour, the effect of ill gotten money has been silenced," stressing that "equally, corporate Nigeria has been shamed and disgraced by a groundswell of opposition to its agenda."
As a result, he said "Obasanjo should now start to park his luggage from Aso Rock since Nigerians have proven that emocracy can thrive and that sit-tight syndrome is not part of our democratic culture."

While commending the senate for a job well done, senator Waku stressed that the senate President, Ken Nnamani "must be given gold award for restoring the confidence of Nigerians in the National Assembly.
Also speaking on the issue, Prof Sagay said, "I regard today as a liberation day, like our independence day. It is a sign of freedom from tyranny, dictatorship, sit-tight syndrome and victory for rule of law, democracy and an opportunity to start afresh and move the country to greatness."

While former PDP national chairman, Audu Ogbeh, said the third term agenda has been laid to rest by the senate he stressed that there is nothing anybody can do to ressuract it in whatever form again. His new party, the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) in a statement congratulated "our valiant and patriotic senators and millions of Nigerians, and in particular, the very vibrant Nigerian media, both print and electronic, on this historic victory."

Also, the National leader of Nigeria Advance Party, Tunji Braithwaite commended members of the National Assembly "for their historic striking down of the scandal of a brazen self-perpetuation plan sought to be foisted on the Nigerian people by the budding facist Obasanjo administration."
Former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba in his comment laced with excitement said Tuesday, May 16, 2006, would go down in history as the day Nigeria got her independence from neo-colonialists, even as Governor Abdulkadir Kure of Niger State said " I congratulate the Senators for a job well done. I’m happy that Nigeria is now a better place."

Reacting to the development, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the only Senator from Oyo State that did not support the third term plot and who incidentally was one of those that rejected the mouth watering N50 million inducement to support the project, it was a victory for democracy.

According to him, this was the first time since the inception of the country’s democracy that the presidency would want to push for an agenda, against the popular wish and aspirations of the people, and the project would fail to sail through.

"I congratulate Nigerians. It is a victory for democracy and integrity. This is the first time in history since we started our democracy that the Federal Government, and by extension the presidency would want something against public opinion, the people will say No," he added.

"I also congratulate the media, in anticipation that the government will allow the third term issue to be buried today, once and for all. The media ensured that the views of our people were ventilated accordingly. I feel highly elated by the way the Senate President handled the whole process, it has restored our dignity and respect as truly distinguished Senators. I can now raise my head anywhere I go to say am truly a distinguished Nigeria, and I will now replace my vehicle plate number which identified me as a senator, but which I had removed because I wasn’t comfortable with the way the amendment issue was being handled."

But Senators Uche Chukwumerije and Sule Yari Gandi, said the fight against third term was not over yet, arguing that anything could still happen. Specifically, Chukwumerije said: " We are sure that these people (pro-third term) will not give up easily and as far as we are concerned, it is not over until it is over. Whatever the case, let them do whatever they want to do, we are also equal to the task."
To the Senate committee chairman on Media and Publicity, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, the Senate has come to a clinical end as far as the amendment bill was concerned.

What this means was that all the 116 proposal for amendments are gone and if we have to revisit it, it means that the process has to be initiated afresh, adding that ‘I had said before and I am saying it again that the positions taken on the floor of the Senate were not moral positions but political positions. And I think fortunately, the Senate has met the expect6ations of the Nigerian public as regards the challenges before it."

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