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Third term: Obasanjo accepts defeat, calls for reconciliation

Posted by By JACOB EDI, Abuja on 2006/05/19 | Views: 1500 |

Third term: Obasanjo accepts defeat, calls for reconciliation


With the collapse of the third term plot, President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday said he has accepted the verdict of the Senate that processes towards amendment of the 1999 constitution should be stopped.

With the collapse of the third term plot, President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday said he has accepted the verdict of the Senate that processes towards amendment of the 1999 constitution should be stopped.
He, however, described the Senate decision as a victory for democracy, saying, "there is no absolute right or absolute truth except God."

Addressing an emergency session of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, Obasanjo said: "As a political party, we should accept the verdict of the National Assembly even though the two chambers concluded differently. The constitution must be held hallowed and sacred. And on the basis of the constitution in hand, we must start to plan for the next elections."
The amendment exercise, Obasanjo said, was another process in the operation of the nation’s constitution, adding that the "Constitution should hopefully be strengthened by the process and exercise that has just been concluded."

Against popular belief that President Obasanjo and members of his kitchen cabinet deliberately worked to achieve tenure elongation, he insisted that he resisted being drawn into either side of the debacle.
He directed that the PDP leadership should, as a matter of urgency, embark on reconciliatory moves, with a view to bringing back all those who may have left the party as a result of the attendant crisis over the tenure elongation plot.

To this end, the President said the party leadership should raise a three-man team of eminent party members "of great maturity and integrity to carry out the exercise in each zone with the zonal vice chairman accompanying, to deal with the issues expeditiously within the next two weeks," adding: "At our last NEC meeting, our party took a position as a major stakeholder in the constitutional amendment debate, as normal in a democracy. And again, as a democratic party, it did not impose its decision on its members in this respect; no matter what office they hold.

Members were allowed to discuss freely and act or vote according to the dictates of their conscience. That was democracy at work. And it must be hailed in spite of alleged imperfections."

Obasanjo, who left the meeting shortly after his speech, to proceed to Ekiti State for a state visit, said in any argument or debate, there was bound to be element of "right and wrong or truth and untruth on either side," adding: "We must respect each other. Respect of course, begets respect."
The president, who lamented that many unsavoury things were said, both within and outside the political class, harped on the need for mutual respect, decorum and dignity in the relationship among all the three tiers of government.

"Just as the National Assembly and the distinguished and honourable members should be respected, they too must learn to respect others. Tolerance is a mark of maturity," the President Obasanjo admonished.
While pledging to continue to defend democracy, President Obasanjo congratulated both the opponents and proponents of the constitution amendment, emphasizing that judging by his track record, he will have no choice but to continue to defend democracy.

"Under no excuse or guise should democracy and its practice be supplanted with any substitution," Obasanjo said, just as he expressed appreciation to all the party members at various levels of the party.
He, however, admitted that he has received reports of bribery, revealing that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating these reports.

Governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and Dr. Nana Kadri praised the virtues of President Obasanjo and also spoke about how grateful the nation was for having him as president in 1999.

For Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Austin Opara, who spoke on behalf of the National Assembly, there was no doubt about the need to change some aspects of the 1999 constitution. Like other speakers before him, Opara saluted President Obasanjo for calling for reconciliation within the party.
He gave assurance that all hope was not lost as the National Assembly will continue to protect the interest of Nigerians.

Earlier, National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali, in a welcome address, entitled, "Time to Move On", also described the outcome of the debate on third term as a triumph for democracy. He said as a ruling party, the PDP was proud to have provided the environment that made it possible.

He also explained that his comments, in which he blasted federal lawmakers, were not meant in bad faith.
"My comments were not made to malign or denigrate anybody," Ali said.

Yesterday’s NEC meeting was attended by governors of Osun, Kaduna, Kogi, Bayelsa, Katsina, Imo, Enugu, Nasarawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Oyo, Kwara, Ondo and Cross River State.

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