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OBJís NEW JOKER!

Posted by By PATRICK ASONYE and CHRISTIAN ITA on 2006/05/22 | Views: 1485 |

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OBJís NEW JOKER!


Apparently still enraged by the rejection of a proposal to elongate his tenure, President Olusegun Obasanjo may have resolved to exact his pound of flesh from the North perceived to have instigated the "killing" of the bill at the National Assembly.

ēPlan to punish North
ēPower to remain in South
ēHow Mantu begged Anenih to save 3rd term at 11th hour


Apparently still enraged by the rejection of a proposal to elongate his tenure, President Olusegun Obasanjo may have resolved to exact his pound of flesh from the North perceived to have instigated the "killing" of the bill at the National Assembly.

Following the voiding of the constitution amendment bill Tuesday and Wednesday by the senate and House of Representatives respectively, President Obasanjo had, in a rare display of statesmanship, accepted the National Assembly resolution as victory for democracy.

While addressing the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday, the president had sued for healing in order to move the nation forward, affirming his decision to quit next year.

But Sunday Sun findings indicate that the president was only being tactful on the new thinking of the party leadership. According to impeccable party sources, the president is of the opinion that "now that the Northern power brokers have aborted 3rd term with the hope of having power revert to the North in 2007, their own hope too would be dashed."

The president, it was gathered, felt let down that all he had done to protect the interest of the North in the past seven years appear unappreciated. Chief among these is said to be his refusal to accede to the upward review of Derivation from 13 percent.

Another special interest of the North said to be consistently taken care of is water resources which has been given generous budgetary allocations. Besides, the bulk of water projects are sited in the North.


Fight-back
Part of the fight-back plan, it was learnt, is to ensure that the presidency remains in the south against the agitation by frontline northern politicians to reclaim power in 2007.

But, the president is said to be tactful about his new game-plan to avoid giving those that are opposed to him the slightest opportunity to derail the plan.

Already, the presidentís kitchen cabinet has begun the search in the South/South and South/East for a loyalist to be assigned the party ticket for the impending presidential elections.
However, a source attempted at the weekend to give a sketchy outline of what could pass for the presidentís criteria for the top job.

"Essentially, the issue of power shift, as far as Mr. President is concerned, is a foregone conclusion, that it would not go to the North," said the insider.

The source continued that the presidentís permutation consists of a few options or a combination of many, to achieve his objective.

First, he may settle for a technocrat from the South as presidential candidate with a view to shopping for a core politician of northern extraction as running-mate.

In-house, the team of visible technocrats from the South include the Central Bank Governor, Professor Charles Soludo, Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr (Mrs.) Obiageli Ezekwesili.

To complement the team, Obasanjo, in the new game-plan, may pick a core politician from the North to join the ticket. Likely to make the list in this category include Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, his Nasarawa State counterpart, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu and the man in the Jigawa State Government House, Saminu Turaki. Though the latter belongs to the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), he is known to be in the good books of the president.

The flip side of that equation is to pick a core politician from the South as presidential candidate and a technocrat of northern extraction as running-mate.

In the light of this option, those who may make Obasanjoís list for the plum job include Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, his counterpart in Akwa Ibom, Obong Victor Attah (both South-south), Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State and Dr. Sam Egwu of Ebonyi State (South east).

Looking up North for a technocrat to complete the ticket, the likes of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, FCT Minister and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu readily come to mind.

Curiously, from the eastern flank, Governor Orji Uzo Kalu of Abia State, who ironically had championed the battle against the Third Term Agenda, was said to have been mentioned in the present permutation.
Kalu, it was learnt, got a mention because of what was described as his popularity.

Said the insider: "Forget that the president and Kalu do not agree. Donít rule out the possibility that they may settle any time. When it comes to the stage of gathering votes, Mr. President knows the people to count on."

The source further hinged the possibility of reconciliation of Kalu and the president on the latterís perceived forgiving spirit.

Meanwhile, though hard to believe, it has nonetheless been revealed that treachery, mutual suspicion, greed and lack of harmony in the pro-third term camp was partly responsible for the failure of the controversial project.

The height of it, Sunday Sun reliably gathered, was the wire tapping of the telephone lines of two pro-third term governors; one from the South/South and the other from the South/East.

Although, the governor from the South/South had often spoken in support of the third term agenda in public, he was said to have spoken angrily against the project in a telephone conversation at some point later with a close confidant.

Unknown to the governor, his lines were tapped and the entire conversation was recorded and allegedly handed over to President Obasanjo.

Of course, the said governor, who until then was one of the Presidentís favourites, was instantly branded an enemy of the President and his access to Aso Rock curtailed.
The same fate befell his colleague in the South/East, whose little "indiscretion" on phone was recorded and played back for the President to listen to.

It was for that reason that the EFCC was unleashed on him not too long ago.
Another fact that Sunday Sun unearthed has to do with the role allegedly played by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BOT) chairman and former Works Minister, Chief Tony Anenih in the failed project.


Anenih connection
While his name was linked with the project right at infancy, with some people even claiming it was his brainchild, Anenih, it was gathered, was not brought in until during the retreat of the National Assembly Joint Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in April.
By then, the committee had run into trouble, with opposition to the agenda mounting from every angle. Some members of the committee like Senator Saidu Dansadau had raised alarm that the committee was working towards a pre-determined end.

Out of idea on what to do, Mantu was said to have approached Anenih with the offer to team up with them and salvage the Ďfloundering ship.í
Before then, Mantu was solely in charge, working as it were, in concert with some individuals in the presidency.

Anenih, according to sources, asked Mantu why he wanted him in on the plot. Mantu reportedly replied that it was the instruction of the President.

Not satisfied with Mantuís explanation, Anenih reportedly sought clarification from the President who confirmed that he indeed instructed that he brought on board.
The joining instruction was that Mantu should brief Anenih on what had been done and the resources at their disposal.

Although Sunday Sun gathered that the deputy senate president promised to do so the following day, he never did so until the Tuesday the bill was shot down in the senate.


Fifth columnists
Again, not all those that surround the President, including some ministers were genuinely in support of the agenda. Some were there as fifth columnists.

Sunday Sun was reliably informed that on many occasions, details of proceedings of behind-closed door meetings found their way to the press with an accuracy that often left the President fuming.
Though the President could not identify the 5th columnists, it was apparent that some of his ministers were the ones squealing his secrets to the press.

It was gathered that some people in the presidency jubilated on Tuesday following the defeat of the amendment bill in the senate.


Last offer to senate president
Also, fresh facts have emerged on how the presidency tried to compromise the Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani over the third term project.

Impeccable sources informed Sunday Sun that one of the promises made to Nnamani was that he would be given an automatic ticket to return as Senate President in 2007.

He was also promised that he would be given the privilege to pick the next governor of his state, Enugu.
To merit such privileges, he was asked to relax the rules of the Senate that would have made it possible for the third term agenda to sail through.

As tempting as the offers were, Nnamani told them he would do no such thing.

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