Enough Of 3rd Term Hullabaloo —Odunayo Joseph



The recent interview granted the Channels Television by ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo during which the vexed issue of third term was echoed, resulting in name calling and use of vitriolic, foul and disrespectful language by a one-time Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani on the former Nigerian president, as reported on the front page of The Sunday Punch of 8th April, 2012 will no doubt draw the ire of well-meaning Nigerians both at home and abroad.

Those who tenaciously believe in and cherish the legacies left behind by the ex-president both as a military Head of State between 1976 and 1979 and a civilian president between 1999 and 200, will no doubt be angered by Nnamani’s vituperations.

In the first instance, the issue of third term was a political one and according to political pundits, there are bound to be two sides to a coin on any issue that is political in nature. It would be recalled that when the issue of third term came alive in 2006, legislators and the populace became divided along two lines, that is, those who were in favour and those who were against the touted tenure elongation which was christened as ‘third term’.

Going down memory lane, the names, pictures and signatures of the proponents and the antagonists of the third term debacle were publicised in major newspapers in Nigeria. When President George Bush of America decided to wage war on Iraq along with allied forces from Britain and some other powerful nations in the world, Americans were no doubt on both sides of the political divide. When Sepp Blatter was to go for the 5th term in office as FIFA President, many nations that would hitherto not have supported the idea of a third term for their presidents lined up behind him owing to some lasting legacies that he has undoubtedly brought to bear on development of the round leather game (football) to the satisfaction of the majority of football associations across the whole world. There is no doubt that the situation in the aforementioned cases were not different from that of the ex-president whom millions of Nigerians believed performed well and thus deserved a tenure elongation to enable him complete the major result-yielding reforms already embarked upon by his administration.

This was more so when our country since independence has been one where lofty reforms and projects of a government were unnecessarily abandoned by succeeding governments for no justifiable or convincing reasons just because of sycophants whose stock in trade is seeking relevance whenever any new government comes to power by resorting to rubbishing the good works of the previous government for selfish reasons.

It is rather unfortunate that the ex-Senate President has chosen to stay away from Nigeria for the cool comfort of his home in far away U.S. from where he chose to haul unwarranted attacks in pleonastic manner on the septuagenarian elder statesman and can therefore not appreciate the mood of his people back home in Nigeria whose lives are daily being threatened by the terrorist Boko Haram. There is no doubt that Nigerians at home are more preoccupied with the safety of their lives and their properties rather than get carried away by the ex-Senate President’s sermon on a long dead third term issue. If the only achievement of the ex-Senator is the stoppage of the tenure elongation for the administration of the ex-president, the question remains whether this over-flogged achievement of his is ever comparable with the several lofty legacies in the kitty of the ex-president that are not only quite visible to the average Nigerian but which have continued and which will continue to positively touch the lives of the present and future generations respectively. It is for this reason, among others, that ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo today commands the respect of well-meaning Nigerians both at home and in diaspora.

For the benefit of doubt of the likes of the ex-Senate President who may still want to use the issue of third term to fruitlessly rubbish Obasanjo, the landmark dividends of democracy he delivered to the people while he was in power,:

•Stability in the nation’s currency against other foreign currencies

•The restructuring of the military resulting in equitable spread of the nation’s armoury which was not the case before 1999.

•The restructuring of the country into the existing six geo-political zones

•Revolutionising the telecommunication sector in the country

•Stability in the supply of fuel for local consumption throughout his 8-year administration between 1999 and 2007, a feat which other governments in the country would no doubt strive to achieve.

•The various reforms introduced in the educational, health and the banking sectors.

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•The laying of solid structures to check the endemic corruption in the country with the setting up of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

•The establishment of the Due Process Office which would no doubt bring sanity in procurement manner in the country.

•The close monitoring of the oil industry as the mainstay of the Nigerian economy under the supervision and firm control of his presidency.

President Goodluck Jonathan is advised to distant his administration from critics and sycophants who may want to take their pound of flesh from the ex-president whose administration fought against corruption in Nigeria frontally with all seriousness. In my article titled “Mr. President, beware of sycophants” published on page 15 in Punch newspaper of Tuesday, June 26, 2007, I wrote: “My candid advice to President Umaru Yar’Adua is that he should realise that sycophancy is a thriving business in Nigeria” and I went further to say that “Sycophants will not stop at pitting him against his predecessors at all costs”. I also went further to explain that “This, they will want to achieve by rubbishing the good works of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration”. And true to this fear expressed in the article, the people are living witnesses to the reversal of some of the important gains of the reforms embarked upon by the Obasanjo administration by the Yar’Adua government to the detriment of the nation’s growth and progress. A good example is the humiliation and senseless frustration of the EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, out of office despite the international acknowledgement of his acumen in tackling and taming corruption that had already become pervasive in the country before his headship of the anti-corruption body.

There is no doubt that the nationalistic posture in the ex-president is still being accorded optimum respect not only by past and present African Heads of State but also by the international community. As an ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo has continued to remain in Nigeria, assisting in the nation’s building. He once advised President Goodluck Jonathan on the way forward on the callous blood-letting of people and destruction of properties in the country by the Federal Government engaging in dialogue with the Boko Haram with a view to ascertaining the motives of the insurgents and get a lasting solution by addressing them.

Without mincing words, there are more important pressing issues on which Nigerians would gave wished that the ex-Senate President dissipates his energy and his purported reserved memory on rather than waste his time on the third term issue that has no doubt been long overtaken by more meaningful events in Nigeria. Examples of such issues, just to mention a few, include:

•The astronomical cost of running governance in Nigeria.

•Getting the nation’s refinery working and thus stop importation of fuel into Nigeria

•The power sector that has remained comatose for many years with no hope of an improvement

•The country that is presently in the throes of insecurity of the lives and properties of the people.

There is no doubt that Olusegun Obasanjo has contributed in no small measure his quota to the growth and development of Nigeria and what should now preoccupy the minds of his critics such as Senator Ken Nnamani is how the current leaders can attain the same level of the ex-president’s legacies already on ground for all to see or surpass them.

•Odunayo writes in from Mopa, Kogi State. Tel: 08053488121. Email: odunayo_ [email protected]