Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday in the United States of America, took a swipe at the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, (a.k.a OBJ) over his third term bid at the tail-end of his second and last presidential tenure. Jonathan said that if not for a vibrant parliament in place, Obasanjo would have had his way and gotten a third term in office as President of Nigeria.
Photo above: L-R, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan & then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Jonathan spoke in the United States at an event titled: “Presidential elections and democratic consolidation in Africa: Case studies on Nigeria and Tanzania” and co-hosted by National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
According to Jonathan, the strong resistance of the Nigerian National Assembly actually frustrated the third term bid of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Of course, I was a governor at that time under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the same party as Obasanjo, but due to strong resistance from the National Assembly, the third term bid failed.” Jonathan (photo: below) said.
It will be recalled that President Olusegun Obasanjo was embroiled in controversy regarding his “Third Term Agenda,” a plan to modify the constitution so he could serve a third, four-year term as President of Nigeria.
This led to a political media uproar in Nigeria and the bill was not ratified by the National Assembly. Consequently, Obasanjo stepped down after the April 2007 general election.
In an exclusive interview granted to Channels Television afterwards, Obasanjo denied involvement in what has been defined as “Third Term Agenda.” He said that it was the National Assembly that included tenure elongation amongst the other clauses of the Constitution of Nigeria that were to be amended. “I never toyed with the idea of a third term,” Obasanjo said.
I doubt whether any Nigerian of sound mind believed OBJ.
For me, OBJ can go and tell that to the U.S. Marines (as they say in Yankee country). It is interesting that former President Goodluck Jonathan chose a forum and platform in the United States to take a swipe at Obasanjo, who was his godfather.
Jonathan would not have become President of Nigeria if OBJ had not fished him out from Creek Haven in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state when he was governor. Obasanjo – as many Nigerians believe has a penchant to select weak or politically naive people to succeed him in office.
OBJ chose former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and gave him an equally weak appendage as Vice President. It was a ploy to assemble two weak Nigerians for the two highest offices in the land.
Yar’Adua demised afterwards and Jonathan assumed office and went ahead to become, like his host at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, who is regarded as the weakest and one of the least successful U.S. Presidents in history.
Jonathan himself, judging from his antecedents and achievements? may also be regarded as one of the weakest and least successful Presidents of Nigeria. On that issue, however, time will tell.
Photo: Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (R) handing over power to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (L) in 1999.
However, that does not detract from what he said in the U.S. about OBJ’s botched 3rd-term bid for Aso Rock. It will be recalled that OBJ once did a good thing worthy of praise and unprecedented in black Africa (the dark continent).
On 1 October 1979, then Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo handed over power peacefully to Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a democratically elected civilian president, hence becoming the first military head of state to transfer power peacefully to a civilian regime in Nigeria, and maybe, beyond. He was hailed by the West, United Nations, etc.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo rubbished all that when he sought a third term in office as President of Nigeria.
Well, his former godson, Goodluck Jonathan, couldn’t have said it any better or reminded Nigerians better, of that episode in Nigeria’s history which shall live in infamy, à la U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Dec. 7, 1941.
By Nnamdi Ebo
Political scientist & Legal scholar