The Third Term Agenda: Nigeria at Cross Roads by Joseph Igietseme provides definitions and clarification
The Third Term Agenda: Nigeria at Cross Roads
by Joseph Igietseme
Nigeria is once again at crossroads. The mission to build a proud African nation from the ashes and ruins of disastrous military rule during most of Nigeria's 45-year existence as an independent nation is once again being threatened by the inordinate ambitions of political leaders who value their own lust for power over the welfare of untold millions of Nigerians who suffer the dire economic circumstances currently prevailing in Nigeria.
The job of building sustainable democracy is an on going multi-generational task which requires that successive generations of political leaders build on the achievements of the prior generations. The argument that a Third Term is necessary so that the job started by the Obasanjo regime might be completed or entrenched in the Nigerian psyche stands logic on its head for two main reasons. Firstly, the job of progressive governance and entrenchment of democracy is never completed. Countries like the USA and the UK with mature democratic regimes are continually reeducating their citizens about the democratic process. Secondly, it is wrong to build the hope for the sustainance of democracy around any given political leader, regardless of his or her brilliance and leadership abilities not only in Nigeria but anywhere else in the world. No man is indispensable. A tree does not make a forest!
The Third Term agenda has unfortunately distracted Nigerians from the task of ensuring that we identify and groom future leaders who will take over the helm of leadership from the current regime in May, 2007. Nigerian political leaders are frittering away a golden opportunity that would nurture the emergence of capable men and women who are fit to takeover from the current leaders not only at the federal level but also at the state and local government levels.
The constitution of a nation is its most important document. The Nigerian constitution provides guideliness for its ammendment. The guidelines require that proper public hearings be held throughout the Federation to enable ordinary Nigerian citizens to debate proposed ammendments before they are brought to the House and the Senate for approval. The receently concluded public consultations held by the Senator Mantu-led committee are nothing but a sham and a rape on the collective intelligence of all Nigerians.
We pray that the Almighty God grant the majority of Nigerian political leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives the wisdom and the fortitude to do what is right for the current and future generations of Nigerians, notwithstanding the financial inducements that are being offered to the lawmakers to betray the trust of the people. The right thing to do is to reject any ammendment that will prolong the tenure of the current lawmakers including President Obasanjo beyond the period they were sworn to serve.
History will not judge well any political leader who betrays the will and the trust of the people.
The fact that the current Obasanjo regime has made significant progress in re-charting the course of Nigerian nationhood well into the future can hardly be disputed by any objective observer. Nigeria's image amongst the commity of nations has improved tremendously under President Obasanjo. The economy has performed very well thanks to the briliiance of Nigeria's senior economic team led by Dr (Mrs) Okonjo-Iweala and Dr Soludo. Nigeria has been able to renegotiate and paydown its international debt in terms that are favourable to us. There has also been a renewed focus on fighting official corruption.
Notwithstanding the laudable achievements of the current regime, it remains clear that alot remains to be done. The buoyant economy that Nigeria has enjoyed in the past few years, (thanks to the ever increasing crude oil revenues) has not trickled down to the hundreds of millions of ordinary Nigerians, the majority of whom struggle daily to feed, clothe and provide decent accomodation, education and healthcare for their families. The supply of electrical energy, a sine qua non for the developlment of viable industries and employment opportunities for Nigerian citizens remain as anemic and as epilepic as it has always been if not worse. Nigeria's population continues to increase at an unsustainable pace that surpasses our ability to provide the necessary services and infrastucture for our citizens. Nigerians are faced daily with the direct and indirect effects of violence emanating from religious differences and from unmet economic aspirations of the peoples of the Niger Delta from whose lands Nigeria derives its national wealth but who continue to suffer the dire economic and deleterious effects on their health, lifelihood and environment caused by oil drilling activities.
The third term idea would have been worthy of consideration if there was any chance that the current regime has the vision and the fortitude to channel Nigeria well into the future beyond its current mandate. It is my sincere opinion that exension of the term of office for President Obasanjo and the state governors is unlikely to produce the panacea that is needed to solve the myriad problems Nigerians face in their daily lives.
I have always considered the current Obasanjo regime as a badly needed interregnum and a bridge to the future of Nigerian democracy and not as the regime that would lead us to the promised land. President Obasanjo has done well for Nigerians to the limit of his abilities and the resources that are avalaible in Nigeria under his watch. However, I think the best legacy President Obasanjo could leave for the current and future generations of Nigerian leaders is the ability to leave the stage when the applause is at its loudest. Unfortunately, this is an ability that appears to be lacking in many African leaders with the exception of Nelson Mandela.
My final advice to President Obasanjo as one of the leaders of Nigerians in the Diaspora is to stop listening to the sycophants who are telling him that he is the only one with the ability to govern Nigeria. The mark of a true leader is the ability to listen to advice from all quarters on a given issue and make a decision that is in the best interest of the people now and into the future.
Mr President--Please say NO to the Third Term Promoters. History will remember you well for making the right decision!
Ola Kassim MD
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
NB: The above statement on the 'Third Term' issue reflects my personal views on the current debate on this issue both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora. The views expressed above should not be misconstrued as the official position of NIDO Americas Inc., an organization that I currently serve as the Chairman.
NIDO Americas Inc. does not have a position on the Third Term issue. NIDO Americas is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-political and non-partisan organization representing the interests of all Nigerians residing in the Americas.