The former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, on Thursday, revealed how he worked with Nigeria’s ex-Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, to stop former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term bid 15 years ago.
Obasanjo’s had in 2006 tried to tinker with the country’s constitution to enable him to seek a third term in office.
The plot was later foiled by the Senate under the leadership of Ken Nnamani.
Mbeki, who spoke at a virtual forum in Abuja, said after he called Obasanjo to voice his discontent on the constitutional amendment plot, he joined Abubakar to stop the plot.
He said: “I’m privileged to see the commitment of Gen. Abubakar to democracy in Nigeria in 2006, more than five years after he had handed over powers to Olusegun Obasanjo.
“The constitution on whose basis President Obasanjo was elected prescribed a two-term limit for the head of state, and since he [Obasanjo] had been elected for the second time, this meant that he would end his term in 2007.
“But some time before, in 2005, a campaign began in Nigeria to amend the constitution to allow for three presidential terms. This developed to a point that the draft of the proposed amendment had been presented to the Nigerian parliament as papers.
“When I heard about this development, I engaged Obasanjo to communicate my unease at the proposal. In the end, I discussed it with Gen. Abubakar, and we agreed that the proposed amendment was undesirable.
“We shared the view that the amendment must be avoided at all costs. We were of one mind that it spells bad both for Nigeria and the rest of the continent, tampering with and compromising our democratic system, which is just a few years old.
“We agreed to add our voices to those kicking against the amendment. We agreed that Abdulsalam would follow the situation in Nigeria closely and indicate to me when we should intervene against the constitutional amendment. I was very pleased when he called that the Nigerian Senate has voted against the amendment.”
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