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Is G8 Snubbing Nigerian President?

It appears the controversy over a possible third term for Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo may have international implications for his country. Published reports say G8 leaders have not invited Mr. Obasanjo to the July summit in St. Petersburg, fearing it might send the wrong message about democracy.

Dr. Chuks Osuji is executive director of Opinion Research & Communications Consultants. From Oweri, in Imo State, he told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua that many believe a G8 snub could result from the third term debate.

“I would not be surprised if they did not invite him. I would equally not be surprised if they changed their minds to invite him if only to use that opportunity to have a discussion with him. But I think the whole thing is about the third term. It hinges on the third term saga…. I think the unfolding melodrama now is surprising a lot of people, including myself as an analyst. I had not thought that he would be encouraging third term tenure extension. I thought that given his experience, his knowledge, the fact that he handed over the reign of power to a civilian regime in 1979 or thereabouts, he would not come to think about another one this time.”

Asked what message a G8 snub would send, Osuji says, “They would be reinforcing and reemphasizing the principle of democracy. That’s the real message. And they would be sending signs of ‘please think again’ before you undertake some major policies in the area of democratic principle.”

He says the fact that South African President Thabo Mbeki reportedly has been invited should also send a signal to Mr. Obasanjo. Osuji says he would like to see the Nigerian president invited to the summit so G8 leaders could tell him their concerns directly.