…says he’d have got it if he had wanted
…urges Nigerians to vote leadership that will deliver the country

Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo has once again denied ever seeking tenure elongation as the country’s president, saying he could have got it if indeed he had wanted it.

Obasanjo, who was Nigeria’s president from 1999 to 2007, made this denial on Thursday while speaking at a virtual engagement organised by the African Leadership Group.

“I never asked for a third term. If I wanted a third term, I would have got it. I am audacious enough to know how to get it,” the former president said at the event themed “Leadership and nation-building”.

Obasanjo’s claim is contrary to what has been public knowledge since 2006 when the third term agenda drama played out.

Prior to the end of his two terms of eight years in 2007, Obasanjo was locked in a battle with some section of the National Assembly over an attempt, through constitutional amendment, to extend his tenure beyond the constitutionally-allowed two terms of four years each. The so-called Third Term Agenda collapsed on May 16, 2006 when the Senate threw out the Constitutional Amendments Bill.

Key political actors at the time, including Ken Nnamani, who was Senate President at the time, Aminu Bello Masari, the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, among others, have in interviews given account of what transpired.

This was the crux of Nnamani’s book STANDING STRONG: Legislative Reforms, Third Term and Other Issues of the 5th Senate, which was presented to the public in Abuja in 2021.

Another book, Too Good to Die: Third Term and the Myth of the Indispensable Man in Africa, authored by Chidi Odinkalu and Ayisha Osori, also dwelt on the issue, naming some of Obasanjo’s aides and associates who pushed the agenda and stating how a massive war chest was built for it and some of the sources and individuals who provided the money.

But Obasanjo has consistently denied ever nursing any agenda or even being interested in staying in office any longer than May 29, 2007.

In April 2012, the former president told Channels Television in an interview that he never solicited for a third term; instead, it was the National Assembly that included it among other clauses during the constitution amendment process.

“I never toyed with the idea of a third term,” Obasanjo told Channels Television. “Third term was one out of over a hundred clauses that they (the National Assembly) included in that amendment and they initiated it.”

Obasanjo said the so-called Third Term Bill was not an executive bill, adding, “If I wanted a third term, that bill would have come from me.”

He repeated the claim on Thursday at the African Leadership Group virtual event anchored by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo.

The former president also said he would not join the campaign trail of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, noting that he had done his best by giving his endorsement through the letter he wrote.

“I am not in the campaign trail. I’ve used the benefit of my experience and I’ve put it plainly. I do not belong to any political party. I will not join any campaign trail. I’ve said what is best for the country,” he said.

Obasanjo also spoke on what Nigerians should look out for in the next president.

According to him, “Nigeria is where we are because of leadership. We must decisively look for men and women who have the character, attributes, skill and attitude that we need for leadership that will deliver in this country.”