Ex-South Africa President Reveals How He Engaged Abdulsalami in Stopping Obasanjo’s Third Term Bid
Fausat Bello & Adebayo Fajinmi
A former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, has revealed that he engaged former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar in stopping former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo from running for a third term in office as President.
Mbeki made the revelation when he spoke virtually at the Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar Festschrift Conference held in Abuja on Thursday.
He stated that Obasanjo’s third term bid as President of Nigeria was fatal for African democracy, adding that he had engaged Abubakar on the developing situation after he had put a call through to Obasanjo expressing his displeasure over his proposed bid to change the constitution.
He said, “I’m privileged to see the commitment of Gen. Abubakar to democracy in Nigeria in 2006, more than five years after he had handed over powers to Olusegun Obasanjo.
“The constitution on whose basis President Obasanjo was elected prescribed a two-term limit for the head of state, and since he [Obasanjo] had been elected for the second time, this meant that he would end his term in 2007.
“But some time before, in 2005, a campaign began in Nigeria to amend the constitution to allow for three presidential terms. This developed to a point that the draft of the proposed amendment had been presented to the Nigerian parliament as papers.
“When I heard about this development, I engaged Obasanjo to communicate my unease at the proposal. In the end, I discussed it with Gen. Abubakar, and we agreed that the proposed amendment was undesirable.
“We shared the view that the amendment must be avoided at all costs. We were of one mind that it spells bad both for Nigeria and the rest of the continent, tampering with and compromising our democratic system, which is just a few years old.
“We agreed to add our voices to those kicking against the amendment. We agreed that Abdulsalam would follow the situation in Nigeria closely and indicate to me when we should intervene against the constitutional amendment. I was very pleased when he called that the Nigerian Senate has voted against the amendment.”
Senator Nnamani’s Narrative
In October, during a book presentation titled, ‘Standing Strong: Legislative Reforms, Third Term and Other Issues of the 5th Senate’ in Abuja, a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, disclosed that he had to sacrifice his position in the Senate due to the third term presidential ambition of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006.
He further stated that Obasanjo in his plan had promised senators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party automatic tickets in the 2007 elections if they support his bid.
He said, “In my own case, my reelection to the Senate was foreclosed because I was marked out as the principal figure among those that ended the infamous project.”
Nnamani added that he knew he would not be given the party’s ticket in 2007, adding that, “I opted to take the High Road and stay out of the contest”.
The former Senate President said huge sums of money were offered to lawmakers in 2006 as part of the means to actualise the third term agenda.
However, he claimed that he rejected all offers. He said “it was the least sacrifice” he could make to ensure that the constitution amendment process “was not abused”.
“We lost the opportunity of continuing with a crop of lawmakers who had gained experience in the culture of legislation but who were brazenly denied their party’s ticket because they stood against autocracy.”