Nigeria is rejecting US concerns about the debate over whether President Olusegun Obasanjo should run for a third term. The US State Department says allowing Mr. Obasanjo to seek re-election again would undermine democratic values. However, a presidential spokesman says the president has not indicated he would seek a third term and that he respects the constitution.
Among those watching the debate is Dr. Chuks Osuji, head of Opinion Research & Communications Consultants. From Oweri in Imo State, he spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua.
Regarding the debate over a possible third term, Dr. Osuji says, “I must be honest with you. I have not convinced myself that President Obasanjo would instigate some people to begin to campaign for extension of his tenure. Because I strongly believe that he is aware of the social, economic and political implications of such a move. Nigeria is not a small country. Nigerians are highly politically sensitized. I don’t think such a proposition would be feasible. But I believe also that there are some people around him who are political sycophants, who would try to convince him to accept the possibility.”
He praises the accomplishments of President Obasanjo in his two terms, but says Nigeria has many qualified people who can run for president. If the constitution were changed to allow him to seek re-election, Dr. Osuji says, “It would send a tremendous, bad message to the people of Africa in particular because Obasanjo has got for himself a very good international image. And he has been a mediator in many African countries. For him to go back to do all those things he has been preaching against I don’t think it would be a very good message.”