How Obasanjo used govs, ministers for 3rd term project

2012-04-09
VANGUARD Newspaper- Emmanuel Aziken

LAGOS — Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s denial of his involvement in the third term tenure controversy roiled on at the weekend with key figures in the opposition to the proposal unfolding how he mobilised the machinery of government to advance the proposal.

Former presidential aide and member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Usman Bugaje, and another former House member, Ms. Temi Harriman, narrated how governors and key officials of the Obasanjo administration were mobilised and intimidated to coerce the lawmakers to adopt the proposal.

At a point, according to Harriman, ministers of the Obasanjo government were put under pressure to ensure that National Assembly members from their states supported the enactment.


*Obasanjo

Harriman told Vanguard how she was brought under pressure to the fact that she was endangering the position of the then Minister of State (Defence), Dr. Rowland Oritsejafor.

Ibori’s threat on N50m rejection

She also disclosed that the then governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, told her that there would be no future for her if she declined the alleged N50 million incentive for supporting the proposal.

Harriman represented Warri, Delta State, Federal Constituency between 2003 and 2007 on the platform of PDP and was the only PDP member in the House from the South who came out against it.

She said: “They were phoning my mother in London, they were phoning my dad, they were using traditional rulers, all ministers had to deliver and they said that if I didn’t support that, Oritsejafor was going to be sacked and eventually he was removed.

“We didn’t stay in our houses just to be careful, especially those of us that were running the secretariat. My governor at that time, James Ibori, when he learnt of my opposition and that I was rejecting the N50 million sent to me, phoned me that there was no future for me in PDP if I didn’t support it and that I should collect the money. I now called the emissaries who were the leaders of the South-South caucus at that time and told them that ‘if any body dared to collect any money on my behalf that I will call a press conference to expose them.’”

Bugaje, who was the chairman of the 2007 Movement which comprised members of the House of Representatives opposed to third term said: “He (Obasanjo) is a pathetic liar, the whole world knows. What about the money that was distributed by (senator, names withheld), a former presidential aide?

“How can he talk like this. Everybody knows that he did everything short of killing some of us. I know people who were pursued even in hospitals.

“When were going to hold a meeting against third term, you would remember that Victor Lar, who is now a senator had to hide for nearly three days because they wanted to arrest him. My private office was burgled and they picked an American intern and the American embassy had to rescue him. So, how can he say that he did not?

Mantu’s role

“What about Mantu, who asked Mantu to do what he did? Mantu was chairman of the constitution review panel and they did what they did in Port Harcourt and Bawa Bwari, the former chief whip, told of how they were excluded from the deliberation.

“Even EFCC refused to follow our alert when they were distributing the N50 million. We followed them, we gave them the vehicle number- plates and yet they refused to acknowledge or follow up our lead.

”Who else would have been able to mobilise SSS, EFCC, Police and others for this other than the President? So, it is an outright lie and he should not add to the crimes he has already committed by lying to the Nigerian people.”

 

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