Obasanjo has lost the bid to stay in power, and he is not happy about it. One thing we can be sure of is that Obasanjo will try to block Atiku Abubakar and all the renegade party members who killed his ambition. But there are other things we don't yet know for sure that could have more serious implications for Nigeria?

“We must, as Nigerians, transcend old, non-functional, even discredited basis of power arrangements and permutations that led us no where other than spreading hatred, suspicion, inefficiency, corruption, and the contamination of progressive conduct and values.”

These were the words of President Olusegun Obasanjo, as he braced to vacate power in a year's time. The general-turned-democrat-turned-dictator-turned-statesman seem to have suddenly found his voice, only days after being chocked on an inordinate ambition to prolong his rule.

The defeat of the third term campaign is supposed to have dangerously weakened President Obasanjo, but it hasn't seemed to, at least on the surface. Since his loss on the floor of the Senate, Obasanjo has tightened his grip, beginning with the removal of the man believed to be the most powerful official in Nigeria, the National Security Advised, General Aliyu Gusau. He has also fired the services chiefs and six ministers. He is gradually retooling and restructuring, far from being grounded by his political misfortune.

Politicians are worried and are vididly uncertain about what the President will do next. The greatest fear is in what he could do with the dreaded Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which the opposition had accused the President of using to crush his political opponents. One of such people is the Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who said the EFFC is a witch hunting organization.

Atiku's complaints are not restricted to the EFCC, he also thinks the administration is tinkering with the political process through the electoral commission. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), according to the Turaki Vanguard, the Atiku camp, the time table was an indication that the INEC was not sincere with its plan for 2007. "It shows that INEC has no plans for free and fair and transparent elections in 2007. This arrangement now prompts us to ask why INEC seems incapable of getting anything right with respect to the 2007 polls. This arrangement now prompts us to ask why INEC seems incapable of getting anything right with respect to the 2007 polls. Why can’t INEC conduct the presidential election in February just like the military government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar did?"

Atiku is only echoing what others have been saying about the election time-table, which ends just about a month before the swearing-in of the new president, leaving only a slight chance that the declared result would be contested.

The fear among politicians is that having lost a deeply painful battle, the general would mete out in the same or greater measure, the pain that was measured to him by his opponents. He is said to have firmly resolved that none of them would succeed him. In fact, this speculation is butressed by Obasanjo's clear preference that the next president be a present governor and a southerner outside the west, as he indicated at a recent meeting with the PDP governors.

This vegeance from the President has but put all the brakes on the campaign plans of Ibrahim Babangida, as he dilly-dallies on his hyped declaration for president. "Politicians believe Obasanjo will still be reaching for it to deal with perceived political enemies," said a politician in Lagos. "They don't believe that failure of third term to make constitutional approval is end of the story." Some believe there is still something Obasanjo can do especially with the Electoral Bill yet to be passed by the National Assembly. "Obasanjo is waiting for pay back time," said one ACD politician.

Another way Obasanjo can stop his dectrators is by starving the electoral commission of statutory funds, in which case the INEC would not be able prepare effectively for the election, thus "leading to crisis that could force the President to ask the Assembly for more time."

It is still stunning to political observers how Obasanjo uncharacteristically, quickly and calmly accepted his defeat in the hands of the Senate. At the PDP meeting where Obasanjo accepted being spanked, the President did not show his disappointment, but rather smiled gently and tried to calm the nerves of his party members.

"In his speech of 1,081 words, he did not apologise. He mentioned third term only once throughout the speech and came across as finding nothing to apologise for, not even on behalf of third term canvassers who used his name and office to plunge the nation into a bitter, deadly, tension-soaked debate," reported a newspaper. And the President said: "Many derogatory statements and unfounded allegations have been made about me and my position concerning the so-called third term in the National Assembly and in the media which are false, incorrect and uncalled for.
In another report, Daily Sun said President Obasanjo's anger is mainly directed at the north from where most of his opponents emerged. This may have informed his statement on top of this page, where he inferred he will changed the power structure once and for all.

Sunday Sun findings indicate that the president was only being tactful on the new thinking of the party leadership. According to impeccable party sources, the President is of the opinion that “now that the Northern power brokers have aborted third term with the hope of having power revert to the North in 2007, their own hope too would be dashed.”

The president, it was gathered, felt let down that all he had done to protect the interest of the North in the past seven years appear unappreciated. Chief among these is said to be his refusal to accede to the upward review of Derivation from 13 percent. Another special interest of the North said to be consistently taken care of is water resources which has been given generous budgetary allocations. Besides, the bulk of water projects are sited in the North.

Obasanjo is said to be hiding his game-plan this time, as a smarter politician. “Essentially, the issue of power shift, as far as Mr. President is concerned, is a foregone conclusion, that it would not go to the North,” an insider told the Sun.

Among the potential candidates being considered are the Central Bank Governor, Professor Charles Soludo, Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr (Mrs.) Obiageli Ezekwesili. Also considered are governors such as include Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, his counterpart in Akwa Ibom, Obong Victor Attah (both South-south), Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State and Dr. Sam Egwu of Ebonyi State (South east).

To complement the team, Obasanjo, in the new game-plan, may pick a core politician from the North to join the ticket. Likely to make the list in this category include Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, his Nasarawa State counterpart, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu and the man in the Jigawa State Government House, Saminu Turaki. Among the northerners that can be viewed outside of the mainstream are the Nasir el-Rufai, FCT Minister and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

There is hardly any controversy over the fact that Obasanjo is wounded. The only contestable fact is if his wounds would make him go for the kill or make him a refined person.

Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi is one of those who thinks Obasanjo can do damage to the nation. Fawehinmi cautioned that “a defeated dictator is a wounded lion,” stressing that “Obasanjo’s attitude to 2007 would be if I can’t get it, you also won’t have it.” “Obasanjo has the means and capability to truncate democratic process in 2007.” He speaks further: “Obasanjo’s attitude in 2007 would be Kaka k’eku ma je sese, a fi se awadanu (a Yoruba proverb, which translated loosely means “Rather than a rat missing eating out of a bowl of cereals, it would spill it.” He has the means.

He has got the money. He has the platform (PDP). He heads the government. He can cause assassination. He can cause bloodbath. He can harm people. “There are lot of negative people who are ruling this country. And a lot of negative people who have lost power now would not like to allow the process to succeed. Negative people meeting negative thoughts that would not love the country to progress. It is like irresistible force meeting an immovable object. That is cataclysm. That is what we are facing now.

“So, by and large, I think if we are not careful in 2007, I pray we don’t lose democracy. We are confronted with three dangerous trends. The first is represented by Obasanjo. That trend is a dangerous one. A defeated dictator is a wounded lion.
“He can harm people. It is a case of you say you don’t want me, and you also won’t get it. Obasanjo would even prefer the military. His mind would be, you don’t want me, then, you won’t get anything. He is a devilish man.

“Obasanjo lives and strives in devilish thoughts. That is the first trend which is dangerous to 2007. We have to contain Obasanjo so that he does not truncate democracy. He has the means to do it. He has capacity to do it. He is mentally equipped to do evil.

“The second trend is the character of the people who are coming to contest election in 2007. A man who brought corruption to the fore in Nigeria. A man who suffocated Nigerians with all sorts of programmes. A man who scuttled the freest and fairest election in the history of this country. A man who does not believe in democracy. A man who does not love democracy.

“Third, we have an Atiku who is a part in reform programme which has murdered Nigerian masses. It has almost killed Nigerians to the extent that NEEDS has now become National Economic Enslavery and Dehumanising Strategy. Atiku has been part of the programme. He has benefitted materially, politically and by all means.

Professor Wole Soyinka, also thinks Obasanjo's game is far from over. "I'm speaking again as a student of psychology of power that after the initial feeling of deflation, that the mind of the power obsessed, will start re-inventing itself, recharging itself and thinking of ways in which the original obsession might be fulfilled. “So, I was speaking purely from psychological point of view. I do not believe that the President has given up."

The Nobel Laureate spoke in Lagos at the presentation of his autobiography: 'You Set Forth at Dawn,' and admonished Nigerians to be battle ready at all times for the struggle against anti-democratic forces.

Nigeria's only respite from a mad president would be the National Assembly. Sunday Tribune reported that the lawmakers may consider an impeachment if he out-stepped his constitutional bounds. But that in itself may be an inordinate expectation, as the there are already moves in the National Assembly by the friends of Obasanjo to deal with those who scuttled the third term.
House of Representatives members who promoted the aborted third term agenda are planning a pay-back on some principal officers who led the campaign against the exercise. The Guardian sources say several key actors in the lower house asserted that finishing touches were being put to a plot to remove some principal officers who contributed to the death of the bill.
The Guardian learnt that the move began immediately the bill was thrown out by the two chambers of the National Assembly and crystalised when the pro-third term camp met in Abuja to appraise the plans and put in place an alternative scheme if the main plot failed. The pro-third term lawmakers are reportedly targeting the House leader, Alhaji Abdul Ningi, the Chief Whip, Bawa Bwari and the Deputy Chief Whip, Patricia Etteh.

With the continuing  change of political and military big-wigs in his administration, perhaps no more evidence may be proferred that Obasanjo is poised for some form of battle. He seems to be preparing himself for a fight. What kind of fight? Self-preservation, national interest, veageance or name-redemption? Who knows.

Nigeria is facing perhaps the most interesting of times in the next one year. It is hard to predict how events will turn out. There is a very fierce fight for power, now that the world oil prices have made government a specially attractive bride for embezzlers such as Ibrahim Babangida. Most of the fight is between the retired generals one one hand, including Babangida, Buhari, Obasanjo, Gusau and their camps. On the other side is the few powerful polticians such as Atiku. Each of these so-called leaders is gathering strengh for the impending battle. It is hoped Nigeria will survive it, because when the elephants fight, it is the ground that suffers most.

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