The Nigerian senate Tuesday voted to throw out a bill to give President Olusegun Obasanjo the option to stand for elections next year. Gilbert da Costa in Abuja has been following developments in the upper chamber of the parliament and filed this report for VOA.
By a voice vote, the Nigeria Senate brought to a close the campaign on a bill to amend the constitution that would allow President Olusegun Obasanjo to run for a third term in elections next year.
The surprise move, which came at the end of the first round of debates on the bill, was greeted with shouts of joy by opponents of the measure. Senator Tokunboh Afikuyomi from Lagos says Tuesday's vote ends the legislative process.
"Once the question is put for second reading and it is negative, that means the end of the entire proceeding," he explained. "And the interesting thing about this is that what happened in the Senate is not only in the Senate, it will also affect deliberation in the House of Representatives because that will also mark the end of that deliberation in the House of Representatives. And also, the proposals will not go to any state house of assembly. So invariably, this terminates the process of constitutional amendment in this session of the national assembly."
The assembly had come under intense pressure in the past few months amid allegations of bribery and intimidation. The bill needed two-thirds support of both houses to pass. Afikuyomi says the bill was hugely unpopular.
"For so long as the mass of the majority of Nigerians were resolute about their objection to the entire process, the third term and its affiliate proposals, it was obvious and what we have seen today is that when the question was put, they could not even mount a resistance," he added.
A former military ruler, President Obasanjo returned to power in 1999 elections which restored democracy in Africa's most populous nation after three decades of almost uninterrupted military rule.
Elections next year should mark the first time in Nigerian history that a civilian president hands over power to another through elections.