The groundswell of opposition to the amendment of the constitution to pave the way for another term of office for President Olusegun Obasanjo and other elected public office holders rose a notch higher as Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State has said third term was slavery and vowed that the people of Nigeria would defend their rights at all costs and all means against any illegality against the constitution.

he governor spoke to the thundering cheers of thousands of members of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) who gathered at the Onikan Stadium in Lagos yesterday for the national convention of the party.

s Tinubu spoke in Lagos, the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Chief Sunday Awoniyi, forwarded an advisory letter to Obasanjo, telling him to quit office in 2007 gracefully.

Incidentally, the position expressed by Tinubu was reinforced by the convention which adopted a motion appreciating Nigerians "for rejecting the third term scheme which is a ploy by current public officers for self-perpetuation in office and hails anti- third term legislators for their courage and patriotism for working against the inclusion of this satanic enactment in the constitution of Nigeria."

Tinubu said Nigerians were ready to defend the gains made in the last seven years and would not allow the hand of the clock to be moved backwards by the President’s quest for a third term of office.

Those who are using the powerful position they occupy today to attempt to ram the third term agenda down the throat of our people will be eternally guilty of the flagrant and wicked abuse of power and subversion of sovereignty of our people," he said.
Waxing stronger, the governor said: "it is a common saying that people who do not know where they are coming from cannot have the sense of direction to create a prosperous society of their dreams. The challenge before us today is for our great party to rally all social forces, all democrats and committed men and women so this slavery, attempt at perpetuation, attempt at subverting the constitution should be subverted, stopped, and buried.

"We are saying no to third term campaigners. We are saying no to the shackle of no liberty. We are saying no to those who want to force themselves on us. We are saying no to those who want to rig elections. We are saying no to perpetuation of individuals in office. We are saying no to those who want to make us slaves again. We are saying no to those who want to use religion and ethnicity to divide us. We are saying no to those who want to perpetuate unconstitutionalism and lack of rule of law in office. We are saying no.

"This time around, we are ready to take our liberty at all costs, by all means, we will defend our rights. We are going to chase them to the border of the next town or next country if they refuse to go. We are going to watch our election, we are going to protect our liberty, [and] we are going to protect our rights.”

In another development, a motion moved by Chief Segun Osoba, former governor of Ogun State, at the convention confirmed reports that the party had initiated merger talks with other parties, including the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) which is believed will absorb the AD.

According to the motion, "the National Executive Committee is hereby authorized by this convention to negotiate, collaborate and merge the Alliance for Democracy with other major political parties in Nigeria within a reasonable time frame."

Five objectives were outlined to be achieved by this move and these include facilitating the chances of AD members to contest 2007 elections; ensuring democracy which guarantees electoral transparency, individual rights and the rule of law; promoting constitutional federalism that would make each of the units sovereign; and encouraging AD to select presidential nominee from among aspirants at an appropriate national convention.

Four other motions were also moved and adopted by the convention, including a condemnation of INEC "for dabbling into the internal affairs of major political parties, apart from the PDP, with a view to destabilising them and thereby pave the way for a one party state in Nigeria."

The first motion was moved by Alhaji Shema, deputy national chairman of the party, which said members of the National Assembly deserved to be "congratulated for rejecting Electronic Voting System and Nigeria will for ever be grateful to them if the new electoral laws adopt the open secret ballot system of voting for the 2007 elections."

A similar motion was also adopted by the convention which stated that the "AD abhors and rejects how leaders of the PDP are being used as the agents of INEC to recruit voters' registration staff pursuant to designing the basis for the rigging of 2007 elections." The motion called on other parties to be alert and "condemn INEC's ploys for rigging through fraudulent registration of voters."

The convention was attended by Chief Bisi Akande, national chairman of the party, members of the national executive, former AD governors in the South-west, including Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti State, and Osoba, among others.

In Abuja, the Chairman of ACF, Awoniyi, admonished Obasanjo to clear his desk and leave office in 2007. “Leave gracefully, Segun. Save Nigeria from unnecessary social and political trauma, besides which the horrors of Rwanda and Burundi will be child’s play. I pray God to bless you abundantly and grant you the humility, wisdom, righteousness of spirit and courage to do so,” Awoniyi admonished Obasanjo in a six-page letter dated Monday 10th April 2006.

He noted that “the way the third term project was conceived in brazen deceit and contempt for all decency, and the ruthless methods being used to force-feed it into an unwilling populace by intimidation, blackmail and all manners of corruption, are in complete contradiction to your administration’s sermons on integrity, transparency and accountability. They are immoral. They are irreligious.”

Awoniyi, who laced his letter, entitled “An Open Letter of Appeal,” with shared experiences with Obasanjo, urged the President to make “a simple announcement to say that you are not interested in a Third Term and that you plan to go back to Otta in 2007.”
He added: “this will bring down the political temperature dramatically. You will be amazed at the favourable public and nationwide reaction to such an announcement. Your credibility nationwide will be considerably restored.

“Some of those around you will certainly not like it, but most of them who have been battling with a moral dilemma on their conscience on the project will be greatly relieved. It will then be possible to consider seriously a meeting of the various leaders of our country “political, professional, traditional, etc., to discuss issues.”

Calling on Obasanjo to lead Nigerians out of the mess they were in, he charged that “you as the undisputed leader today must have the humility to accept that you are human and that mistakes have been made that need urgent correction. And as they say, if you want to get out of a hole, you must stop digging.”

He continued: “therefore, whatever solutions you may have to offer, for them to have any chance of success, you must begin by mending fences and regaining the trust of those leaders and groups of influence whom you have grievously and so needlessly let down.

“You must call off the harassment of all those opposed to you or those whom you are opposed to, including your Vice President. It is disingenuous to pretend that you have no hands in these harassments. It is like hiding behind a finger and pretending that people do not see you.”

Awoniyi also urged Obasanjo to show gratitude to Nigeria and its people by putting an end to all actions that could plunge the country into communal or sectarian strife and possibly civil war, adding that the President should look up the recommendations of the Etsu Nupe Committee on the ways to tackle the problems of 2003 rigged elections.

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