Obasanjo and a third-term ambition, 2

December 16, 2005

Statement By Human Rights Activists and Representatives of Civil
Society on the Political Agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo

We, the undersigned activists and representatives of Nigerian civil society and various human rights organizations, concerned about the state of democracy in our fatherland;

*Worried that Nigeria appears to be on the drift to anarchy, lawlessness and break down of rule of law and due process under President Olusegun Obasanjo, and that like a bad dream, the spectre of a sit-tight dictatorship looms in Nigeria once again, less than eight years after the brutal dictatorship of General Sani Abacha;

*Concerned, that having waited patiently in the hope that President Olusegun Obasanjo on whose behalf opportunistic and sycophantic messengers have being mounting a third term campapign, would intervene decisively to re-assure Nigerians that it is not true, that he intends to abuse and desecrate the Constitution;

*Worried that it has become clear that the third term agenda is no longer a joke, but a grand design by undemocratic forces to fritter away our hard-won democracy, for which some of our colleagues and scores of other Nigerians died;

*Convinced, that with "all the President's men" now in the forefront of this unholy campaign, it is quite clear that it is a plan being executed at the behest of President Obasanjo or, at the very least, with his blessings;

*Further convinced, that it is a monumental tragedy in our time, that the greatest beneficiary of this democracy would seek to sacrifice it all, at the altar of personal ambition;

*Recounting that the late General Sani Abacha took us down this same road only in recent years, when he manipulated every aspect of the political programme to achieve his ambition to remain in office as President after the end of his transition programme;

*Noting the parallels that exist between General Sani Abacha's political machinations and manipulations, and President Olusegun Obasanjo's ongoing corruption of the present political system;

*Particularly, the manipulation of the major political parties, causing divisions in their ranks and propping up individuals who are amenable to his undemocratic ambition. And the manipulation of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), through a membership re-registration exercise and holding of party congresses even in violation of court
orders, and whose sole objective is to oust from the party all dissenting voices and opposition to President Obasanjo's third term agenda;

*Noting Further, the manipulation of the constitutional reform process to make it possible for President Obasanjo to "serve" a third term, through a selective amendment of the Constitution and reports of plans to corrupt the legislative arms of government and the States' and National Assembly levels, aimed mainly at extending President Obasanjo's rule;

*And Curiously, the failure of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to act and investigate these reports, when these bodies are usually quick to investigate allegations against the President's "enemies" or former lackeys who have fallen out of favour,;

*Anxious, that Nigeria, does not again descend into arbitrary and undemocratic rule in view of the increasing intimidation and harassment of dissenting voices and opposing views across the country and repression of the media by the intelligence and law enforcement agencies, who have become ready tools for despotism;

*Further anxious, that the credibility and integrity of the anti-corruption process have been seriously compromised through their use as political weapons of intimidation and elimination of opponents of President Obasanjo; We, the undersigned activists and representatives of various Nigerian civil society and human rights organizations hereby resolve as follows:

1. To launch a campaign of action and challenge of the looming emergence dictatorship in Nigeria. As we have done in similar circumstances in the past, we as civil society organizations, stand united and will defend our democracy and our fatherland. We are returning to the trenches and to the barricades from where we fought military dictatorship to a standstill, to once again fight another kind of dictatorship.

2. We immediately resolve to boycott participation in all events including public hearings being organised by the Senator Ibrahim Mantu led committee in the National Assembly to amend the Constitution.

3. We further ask the current National and State Houses of Assembly across the country, to defer request all moves to amend the Constitution until the Electoral Law is passed and a free, fair and transparent election is conducted in 2007, in line with the current 1999 Nigerian Constitution.

4. We call on President Olusegun Obasanjo to publicly, clearly and unequivocally announce that he will not seek to amend the current Nigerian Constitution, and if asked will not accept to remain in office under any circumstance, as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, beyond May 29, 2007.

5. We urge all Nigerians people to be alert to the clear and present danger facing Nigeria and to stand with us for the sake of their future, the future of their children, and the future of our country, in opposition to dictatorship and arbitrary rule.

6. We will wage a vigorous and sustained battle and will not be deterred by the harassment and intimidation of our members, the signs of which are already evident.

1. Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti Centre for Constitutional Governance
2. Olisa Agbakoba HURILAWS
3. Clement Nwankwo Constitutional Rights Project
4. Mike Ozekhome Universal Defenders of Democracy
5. Richard Akinnola Centre for Free Speech
6. Festus Okoye Human Rights Monitor
7. Priscilla Achakpa Women Environmental Project
8. Edetaen Ojo Media Rights Agenda
9. Bamidele Aturu Democratic Alternative
10. Abiodun Aremu United Action for Democracy
11. Y.Z. Ya'u CITAD
12. Dominic Ogankpa Justice, Development and Peace Commission
13. Olanrewaju Suraj Citizens Assistance Centre
14. Santos Ayuba Laraba League for Human Rights
15. Gad Peter League for Human Rights
16. Mma Odi RUWEN
17. Fabian Okoye Global Rights
18. Femi Falana West African Bar Association
19. Lanre Arogundade International Press Centre
20. Jibrin Ibrahim Global Rights
21. Tunde Aremu International Press Centre
22. George Mary
23. Ndubisi Obiorah Centre for Law and Social Action
24. Innocent Chukwuma Transition Monitoring Group
25. Titus Mann Civil Liberties Organization
26. Ibrahim Muazzam Centre for Research and Development
27. Mimidoo Achakpa Women's Right to Education Program
28. Clement Wasah Comm. Action for Popular Participation
29. Mohammed G. Wuyo Borno Coalition for Development