President Olusegun Obasanjo's attempt to cling to power through bare-knuckle tactics has been dealt  a severe diplomatic blow by the United States which pointedly told him to desist and respect the rule of law
The United States Government has cautioned the Federal Government against plans to extend the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo and state governors, contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

A statement by the U.S. Embassy, on Sunday, said the country preferred that tenure limits in the 1999 Constitution should be respected.

The statement came amidst reports that some pro-third term members of the House of Representatives had canvassed secret balloting when a vote is taken in the parliament on the controversial issue.

The text of the U.S. statement obtained by THE PUNCH in Abuja reads, “The United States Embassy in Nigeria wishes to make the following statement in response to continuing media inquiry regarding our position on the ongoing process of amending the Nigerian constitution.

“The United States respects the right of any country to amend its constitution through democratic, transparent and legal means. However, the United States is concerned about the current effort to amend Nigeria’s constitution in order to allow the President and governors to run for a third term.

“Our view is very clear that executive term limits should be respected, in the interests of institutionalising democracy and opening political space. This allows for new leaders to be groomed, and it supports the rule of law. A regular turnover of power ingrains and institutionalises a democratic process. We have consistently delivered this message to a number of countries facing the same issue.

“We understand President Obasanjo has not made any formal announcement of his plans after his second term expires in 2007.”

A senior official of the Department of State noted that many Nigerians did not believe that the process of constitutional amendment was transparent.

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