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MAN backs Obasanjo for 3rd term• Senate, Reps react

Posted by By EMEKA OKOROANYANWU, CHRIS UBA, FEMI BABAFEMI, Lagos, BASHIRU UMAR and JAMES OJO, Abuja on 2005/11/16 | Views: 2551 |

MAN backs Obasanjo for 3rd term• Senate, Reps react


Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN), the umbrella body of all manufacturers in the country, Tuesday gave a tacit approval of the alleged third term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying that elongation of his tenure was necessary in order to guarantee continuity and to avoid the reversal of positive achievements recorded by the regime.

Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN), the umbrella body of all manufacturers in the country, Tuesday gave a tacit approval of the alleged third term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying that elongation of his tenure was necessary in order to guarantee continuity and to avoid the reversal of positive achievements recorded by the regime.

Also Tuesday in Abuja, a member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Haruna Yerima, ANPP, Borno State said the House would pass with speed never seen in the records of the National Assembly any bill pertaining to the third term bid of President Obasanjo even as the senate through its chairman, committee on media and publicity, Victor Ndoma-Egba said that the upper house alone cannot stop the third term bid.

MAN president, Mr Charles Ugwuh, who spoke at the 34th annual general meeting (AGM) of the association in Lagos (see text below) said the reforms initiated by President Obasanjo "are being gradually entrenched and it would be a pity if, as a result of the need to ensure formal compliance with the constitutional provision, we allow a reversal of these positive developments."

According to Chief Ugwuh, "the need to guarantee consistency of policy goes beyond the question of whether President Obasanjo remains in power or not. We as a nation, must view the tremendous achievements we have recorded and guard these jealously to prevent any possibility of a reversal before they are fully entrenched and clearly irreversible."
Said he: "the question, therefore, is how do we protect these glorious achievements for a little while longer before full entrenchment or indeed, how do we ensure that, whichever government comes into power, and in this case, individual or party, sufficient structures are established to prevent major policy somersault and ‘U’ turns?"

Some of the achievements of President Obasanjo which Engineer Ugwuh listed are liberalisation of the economy, the war on corruption, consolidation and strengthening of the financial sector, investment in major infrastructure, deregulation of the economy, the restoration of the dignity of the Nigerian nation and the freeing of the education sector to ensure provision of manpower.

However, briefing newsmen immediately after a closed-door session of the upper chamber, chairman of the senate committee on media and publicity, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba said it is too early to even speculate on the alleged third term, as the Senate does not yet possess the constitutional power to okay the alleged project.

"The sub-committee of the senate committee responsible for such changes is handling the matter and after that, it has to report to plenary session after which the constitutional review has to call for public hearing and then it will go to the 36 states of the federation before any law can be passed," he said.
To him "Nigerians are making a mountain out of a mole hill concerning a matter that is of no consequence as far as the Senate is concerned."

However, speculations are rife even within the Senate that a mouth-watering amount (N100 million) awaits the senators once they allow the bill to pass in favour of the third term project.
The offer, Daily Sun learnt, has split the Senate with some vehemently in favour and others against the move which they described as "a suicidal hook to swallow."

But Senator Ndoma-Egba said "the present Senate is satisfied with the level of cohesion. That is not to say that one or two[people] may not have their own grouses and we can only know their grouses from what they say to you people (newsmen)."

The senate media committee chairman also tacitly confirmed that the N40m bullet-proof limousine purchased for the senate president was budgeted by the Senate, saying "if it was budgeted for and the Senate went outside the budget, then you can query, but if it was budgeted for and the Senate has not gone outside the budget, I don’t think it is an issue."

In another development, shocks seem to await Nigerians who think that the third term agenda would meet a brick wall in the House of Representatives as a member said that any bill to that effect would be passed with a speed never seen in the records of the National Assembly.

"Give us 20 minutes in this House, any bill on extension of the tenure of this administration would be passed, it won’t take time," said Hon Haruna Yerima, ANPP member from Borno State.

Reacting to the much touted third-term agenda, Hon Yerima said, "I do know that if the money that is alleged to be going round members is well spread and added to the benefits of getting more years without going through the rigours of election, let me tell you, the bill to amend the constitution would not last for 20 minutes, this I can bet you."

Hon Yerima therefore asked Nigerians not to rely on the National Assembly, but to take their destiny in their own hands as nobody wants to fight for them on this matter.

According to him, it was no more a rumour that agents of the third -term agenda are on the prowl looking for recruits in the National Assembly, saying that though he was yet to be contacted, some members he could vouch for had been contacted.

"I have not been approached, but Professor Sola Adeyeye had come out that he had been approached. I have no reason to doubt him because he is a man I have tremendous respect for. Look, before he told the press, he had personally told me to watch out that some people had come to him with money asking him to support the third term thing, and I have no reason not to believe him," he noted.

Also, the rumoured third term ambition of President Olusegun Obasanjo has been described as a mirage, which will never sail through in the National Assembly.

An Alliance for Democracy (AD) member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ganiyu Solomon who said this Tuesday also disclosed that the plot may eventually consume those behind the scheme and the nation’s nascent democracy.

Another member in the House of Representatives, Hon Abike Dabiri buttressed this when she said that the move will surely meet a brickwall because it runs contrary to the wishes of Nigerians.
This is coming, even as the AD Chairman in Lagos state, Chief Abiodun Ogunleye criticized the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) being planned for use during the 2007 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and described it as a "a veritable instrument for rigging" by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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