Obasanjo's bid for third term rejected by Senate

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo's dreams of a third term in office appeared to be over after the Senate threw out amendments to the country's constitution that would have allowed him to run in next year's elections.

Although Mr Obasanjo never publicly admitted wanting to extend his rule, his supporters had been pushing to give him another four years in power, a proposal that aggravated ethnic, religious and regional rifts and sparked warnings that turmoil could engulf Africa's most populous nation. "The Senate has said clearly and eloquently that we should discontinue other proceedings on this amendment," Senate President Ken Nnamani told the chamber, to cheers.

The third term saga has become a national obsession over the past few months and it has been a bruising ride. Mr Obasanjo's People's Democratic Party split over the issue. Atiku Abubakar, the Vice President, accused him of trampling over the wishes of ordinary Nigerians.

One Nigerian senator described how four men in military uniform opened fire on him on Sunday, and Nigeria's anti-fraud squad has launched a probe into reports politicians were offered plots of land and 50m naira (£200,000) bribes to vote in favour of amending the constitution.

However, it all looked to be over after yesterday's Senate vote, and Nigeria now looks set to see power pass via the ballot box from one civilian president to another next year, for the first time in its history.

"It's an extremely positive development," said Olly Owen, Africa analyst at Global Insight. "It's very much a benchmark in Nigeria because it means the issue will not come up again, and it's a benchmark for the African continent because one of the power-houses can now lead by example."

Nigeria had risked becoming the latest in a long line of African nations - including Uganda and Chad - to see the ruling party tweak the rules and allow a president to cling to power, dashing hopes that the era of African "strongman" politics was over.

Mr Obasanjo, a one-time military ruler who was voted back to power in 1999 elections, won a billion-dollar international debt write-off thanks to his economic reforms, as well as high praise for his efforts to bring peace to the continent's trouble spots, most recently Darfur.

Finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - herself a possible presidential candidate - has spear-headed an anti corruption drive which saw Nigeria named among the 21 most improved countries last year.

However, impoverished ordinary Nigerians were not keen for Mr Obasanjo to stay, with more than 80 per cent of those surveyed by research group Afrobarometer believing he should obey the two-term limit and stand down at the end of his mandate in May 2007.

Senior US officials had warned of major turmoil and conflict if Mr Obasanjo bid for a third term. And following ethnic clashes in February that killed at least 150 people, there was widespread muttering about the third term agenda being to blame. Mr Obasanjo is a Christian from the south, and many residents in the Muslim-dominated north feel that after eight years they should get a taste of the premiership.

Militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta had also warned of consequences if the president stayed on.

With yesterday's vote, analysts say the time has come for Mr Obasanjo to realise he will have to leave the presidential villa next year and to start preparing himself for some rest and relaxation on his chicken farm.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions