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Nigeria Rejects Proposed Constitutional Amendment

In a voice vote yesterday, Nigeria’s legislature moved to end consideration of a proposed constitutional amendment that would permit President Olusegun Obasanjo to run for a third term. It was made clear, through parliamentary discussions, that the bill would not receive the two-thirds vote in each house of Parliament needed to pass.

Ladi Adamu teaches mass communications at Ahmadu Bello University in northern Nigeria and spoke with English to Africa reporter Howard Lesser about the outcome of this debate. She says that although yesterday’s action curbs one aspect of national debate, the subject of presidential succession is still alive.

“I don’t know what the terrain will look like next year, when there will be a change of government, but believe me, there is hot contestation.”

She credits President Obasanjo as being the first Nigerian civilian president to make a peaceful and successful transition from one term to the next. However, she adds that arrangements for power sharing remain uncertain, especially because some top officials are reluctant to step down.

“The issue of corruption is top on the agenda. Some senators were accused of buck passing, and some are denying it, but it’s been in the papers, and some were even threatening to name the senators who took money to have the 1999 Constitution amended.”

Ladi Adamu says Nigeria expects Vice President Atiku Abubakar to announce his candidacy for next year’s election. She says there are many unannounced potential candidates in the wings, but that in her opinion, Nigerians will have to choose a president with a military background. She says that is “the only type of person who can rule this country in this modern time of terrorism.”

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