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Third Term Debate Continues In Nigeria

In Nigeria, there is more criticism of the decision by the ruling People’s Democratic Party to adopt a proposal that would allow the president to run for a third term. A draft constitutional amendment now before the Nigerian parliament calls for a third term for president and other political office holders. The latest criticism comes from Omar Shittien, who until recently was a founding member and elder statesman of the ruling party. Mr. Shittien tells English to Africa reporter James Butty he left the party because it was deviating from the original purpose of its founding.

“My serious objection started really from September of last year when the party was supposed to conduct fresh elections for the leadership of the party…. But the president, Olusegun Obasanjo, refused and instead nominated and selected individuals of his own choice to be leaders of the party. That was the basis of my objection, because the constitution provides for various party offices. We were ending up now with the imposition of members from the party, a party which is the largest in Africa. That I could not stomach, and that’s why I resigned.”

Shittien says President Obasanjo chose the party leaders to make possible the third term amendment. “That third term amendment which they want to impose on Nigeria is not acceptable, not even to the party but [only] to the few people he selected and imposed on the party. But it is not acceptable to any Nigerian. It is a shame to Nigeria. We cannot today be amending a constitution in the manner [in which] Idi Amin amended the constitution of Uganda in the 60s. We cannot today be amending the constitution the way the late Emperor Bokassa amended the constitution of the Central African Republic.”