President Muhammadu Buhari has assured doubting Nigerians that a third term in office or a constitutional amendment that will yield one, is not how he wants to be remembered.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term bid collapsed on the floor of the senate on May 16, 2006 after lawmakers threw out the constitutional amendment bill.
Legislators were also financially induced to amend the constitution for Obasanjo at the time, according to sundry reports.
Wads of cash meant to bribe legislators, reportedly made their way to the national assembly in bullion vans at the time.
The rumours that started it all
There have been speculations in the social media that Buhari, whose constitutionally permissible second term in office elapses on May 29, 2023, is set to borrow from the Obasanjo playbook, but the president says he will never go down that route of infamy, reports pulse.ng.
“The Presidency wishes to correct internet-based gossip and un-informed media commentary regarding presidential term limits, given credence by so-called support groups, staging street demonstrations asking President Muhammadu Buhari to do a third term,” Buhari said in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on the nation’s Independence Day.
“There are no circumstances – nor set of circumstances – under which President Buhari may seek to amend the constitution regarding the two-term term limit on holding office as president.
“President Buhari intends to serve his full second elected term in office, ending 2023 – and then there shall be a general election in which he will not be a candidate.
“There is not even the faintest possibility that this will change.”
The Obasanjo dig
The presidency also had a dig at Obasanjo who has emerged a foremost critic of the Buhari administration.
Obasanjo had warned Buhari not to seek a second term in office in January of 2018.
“It is important to note that there was a past attempt to change the constitution to allow for the-then incumbent president to stand for a third term. That attempt was wrong, unconstitutional – and rightly rebuffed. No such attempt will happen under this president.
“President Buhari is a democrat. He respects the constitution. Any activity aimed at altering the two-term limit will not succeed and shall never have his time nor support,” the statement concluded.
How Obasanjo’s third term bid went down
In their book: “Too Good To Die: Third Term And The Myth Of The Indispensable Man In Africa”, Chidi Odinkalu and Ayisha Osori narrated how Obasanjo and his foot soldiers went about the infamous third term agenda.
According to the authors, there was an offer of N50 million for each member of the House and N75 million for each senator who was ready to vote for the tenure extension amendment.
“Finally, there were the legislators who formed a key part of operations to secure a third term for Obasanjo. In the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu, Ifeanyi Ararume and Jibril Aminu were some of the leading figures involved in the lobby to induce legislators to accept the constitutional amendments.
“Within the House of Representatives, there were several caucuses across interests, geography and parties. For instance, there was the Unity Forum led by David Idoko. Under the guise of advocating for the unity of Nigeria, this group of legislators sought to drive support for the Third Term Agenda within the public and amongst legislators. In return, many of them were reportedly well rewarded.
“These foot soldiers committed to the glory of a third term, an ode to Obasanjo’s now personal god complex, worked towards their goal with the aid of various strategies guided by Obasanjo’s mechanical engineering mind. What was needed? Who was needed? Who could be bullied or bought?
“Some of the strategies were familiar and had been used by other self-succession artists. The key tool was incentives – the trade by barter that had worked so well in keeping elite support for military rule for over 29 years.
“Positions were offered. Sitting governors, for example, would enjoy tenure elongation as well and several loyalists from the North had been promised that they would become Obasanjo’s vice president during his third term.
“Financial reward was also a huge inducement. The most credible figure for members of the National Assembly was N50 million for each member of the House and N75 million for each senator who would vote for the tenure extension amendment,” excerpts from the book read.
Obasanjo continues to deny that he sought to tinker with the nation’s constitution in order to elongate his stay in office.
Obasanjo and Buhari were military presidents at different times in the ’70s and ’80s.