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NEWS DISPATCHES > President Obasanjo and his deputy at Each other's Throat

7 Apr 2006



President Obasanjo’s spokesman Femi Fani- Kayode has called for Nigeria’s vice president Atiku Abubakar to resign. The vice president in turn has retorted that the president himself should resign. The latest round of crisis was precipitated by the fact that the V.P attended a conference (in Abuja) of opponents to president Obasanjo’s alleged bid to run for a third term during the coming 2007 presidential polls in Nigeria.


Obasanjo is serving his last year of the second term provided by Nigeria’s current constitution. For some time now, some elected and non-elected politicians have been clamouring for the modification of Nigeria’s constitution to permit a third term for the president and governors. The president himself has been evasive in addressing the issue to clearly state his position. This fence-sitting attitude has only fueled the suspicion that he is in the camp of those calling for the revision of that section of the constitution.


The relations between Obasanjo and his vice have been icy since last year when the president openly accused his deputy of “disloyalty” and proceeded to gradually isolate him from the nucleus of decision-making within the ruling PDP party. Abubakah is a presidential hopeful with his eyes focused on the 2007 elections. It was natural for him to commit the ‘crime’ of ‘disloyalty’ by opposing any moves to amend the constitution to provide a third term for his boss at his own detriment.


Nigeria (most populated black nation on earth with population of 130million) has more than two hundred tribes with three main groups comprising Hausa/Fulani in the North, Yorubas in the West and the Igbos in the East. Obasanjo is a Yoruba Christian from the West and his deputy a Muslim from the North. Applying the logic of the rotation of the presidency within ethnic blocks, the North feels that it is her turn to take over the mantle. Many political heavy weights in the North including two military ex-rulers (General Muhammadu Buhari and Gen Ibrahim Babangida) are said to be equally waiting for their own opportunity to contest come 2007.


Observers had looked upon Olusegun Obasanjo as one of Africa’s best hope of planting democracy on the continent. Granted that his achievements in that direction have been salutary, the controversy over the bid to extend the term of office will certainly leave a sour taste over what he has accomplished. This is so because many African despots have used that road to hang unto power indefinitely.



Njei Moses Timah