As 2005 draws to a close, the major stories in Nigeria include the continuing violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the debate over whether President Olusegun Obasanjo should be allowed to seek a third term.
To get the government’s reaction to these stories, Sunday Dare, Chief of Voice of America’s Hausa Service, spoke with Remi Oyo, senior media adviser to President Obasanjo.
Regarding the government’s position on the Niger Delta, she says, “Our president is resolute in the fact that he will continue to protect life and property in our country. The president is resolute that he will not abandon this country to brigands and that criminals must be chased out and caught and punished regardless of where they exist. The president is resolute that it is important that people understand that is the live wire of our country that is at stake here. It is not about anything else other than just theft of oil, whether in crude form or processed form.”
As for the debate over whether the president should be allowed to seek a third term and claims that he is behind efforts to amend the constitution, Ms. Oyo says, “The business of amending a constitution, especially that of our country, belongs to the people of Nigeria. I also do know that the quest for the amendment of our constitution began soon after President Obasanjo took over in 1999, when there was a clamor for a change of the constitution that was inherited from General Abdulsalami (Abubakar). The business of amending a constitution is a long process in our case. And I believe in our president that he is not one to take a unilateral decision. He is indeed a democrat…and has always done that in the best interests of our country and in the best interests of our democracy.”