Worried by state governors’ threats to pull out of the move to secure a third term of office for President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Presidency yesterday made contacts with the leadership of the National Assembly and asked that the proposed amendment to Section 182 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution which recommended three terms of four years each for the office of the governor be restored.


The presidential request came on the heels of a meeting of the state governors in Abuja yesterday where they strategised on how to deal with an amendment bill seeking to include an extra term of office for the President.

The leadership of the National Assembly as well as that of the National Assembly Joint Committee on the 1999 Constitution Review (JCCR) was, however, unable to reach a compromise on how to restore a clause that would enable the governors to also benefit from the tenure extension project.

Presidency sources told THISDAY last night that the President had spoken with the President of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, on the need to ensure that the clause on the extension of governor’s tenure was included in the bill which had passed first reading in the Senate.

Informed sources in the National Assembly said the leadership was considering the situation where the sponsor of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Amendment) Bill, 2006, the Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Nasir Mantu, will withdraw the bill and represent a fresh one that would include an amendment that would accommodate the extension of the governors’ tenure.

he leadership is said to be circumspect about this approach because of the moral harm it could do to the legislative process.
On account of this, another option being considered is to allow Mantu move for an amendment on the floor of the Senate while the Deputy Speaker, Honourable Austin Opara, will move it in the House.

It could, however, not be ascertained last night if the lawmakers with governorship interests who had vowed to work against such an amendment had been pacified.

Also yesterday, there were strong feelings that the governorship aspirants in the constitution drafting sub-committee of the JCCR might have expunged the proposed amendment to Section 182 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, which deals with the governors' tenure.

The JCCR drafting sub-committee chairman, Senator Oserheimen Osunbor (PDP, Edo), in dismissing such reports maintained that the omission of the tenure of the governors from the bill must have been a mistake.

He said: "what we agreed upon in Port Harcourt was mutatis mutandis (what goes for the president, goes for the governors). What appeared in the gazette, which I have not seen is not what we did.

"I will like to say that somebody must have made mistakes in the process of transferring diskettes. I have not personally noticed what appeared in the gazette."

Continuing, the Senate Committee on Judiciary chairman explained: "what we did by the time we finished the last JCCR meeting was what we submitted and everything went out of our hands.

"Whatever happened must have been within the secretariat (of the committee). That simply is what I know."

eanwhile, 14 governors and seven deputy governors yesterday met in Abuja for about three hours behind closed doors, ostensibly to review their fate over the non-inclusion of three terms of four years for the office of governors and the removal of criminal immunity in the proposed amendments to the 1999 constitution.

Section 182 of the 1999, which provides for two terms of four years each for the office of the governor, was proposed for amendment by the JCCR at its Port Harcourt retreat.

However, when the report of the committee was gazetted, the section, which dwells on the proposed amendment to Section 182, was omitted.

At yesterday’s governor’s parley, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah, who is also the chairman of Governor’s Forum, was said to have told his colleagues that he had investigated the omission of the proposed amendment and had found out that it was done in error.

He was said to have assured his colleagues that the error would be corrected but advised that a committee be instituted to liaise with the President and the leadership of the National Assembly with a view to ensuring that the omission was corrected.
But the Deputy Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Magaji Abdullahi, was said to a have argued that since the bill had gone through the first reading in the Senate, it would amount to a mockery of the legislative process to seek its withdrawal  in order to include a clause on the tenure of the governors.

e was also quoted as telling his colleagues that the amendment bill was being sponsored by Mantu, asking why the governors should go and parley with the President instead of the leadership of the National Assembly.

Adamawa State Governor, Mr. Boni Haruna who was said to have supported this position was also quoted to have told his colleagues that the whole process of the constitution amendment was being wrongly handled to favour the President even though it was being forced down the throat of the governors.

Citing the issue of the removal of criminal immunity in the proposed amendments, he was said to have advised his colleagues not to be fooled because once the clause is removed they would be vulnerable and sorely at the mercy of the President.

Haruna who stormed out about 40 minutes after the commencement of the meeting was said to have bluntly told his colleagues that rather than talking about setting up a committee to go and dialogue with the President and the leadership of the National Assembly, the governors should rise up for the defence of democracy by totally rejecting the amendment of the constitution to favour an individual.

Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, who walked out of the meeting one and a half hours after Haruna, told anxious newsmen to wait for Governor Attah who was mandated to brief the press.

But about 30minutes after, the governors wearing stern faces trooped out of Akwa Ibom Governors Lodge, Asokoro venue of the meeting without entertaining questions from newsmen.

Attah who was to have to briefed the press later sneaked out through the back door into a waiting car and was driven away, leaving the anxious newsmen who were gathered in front of the main entrance into the building.

The governors who attended the meeting were, Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris of Kogi State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State, Chief Segun Agagu of Ondo State, Chief Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, Rev. Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, Chief James Ibori of Delta State, Alhaji Danjuma Goje of Gombe State, Alhaji Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State, and Chief Achike Udenwa of Imo State. Obong David Attah of Akwa Ibom State and Mr. Boni Haruna of Adamawa State.

The deputy governors who attended the meeting were those of Kano, Katsina, Benue, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Oyo and Yobe States.

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