Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, has said the ‘Third Term Agenda’ of former President Olusegun Obasanjo could have taken the country to a dangerous path save for the vigilance and courage of some legislators at the time.
Nnamani disclosed this yesterday in Abuja during the public presentation of his book, “Standing Strong on Due Process’.
He said for democracy, political stability, and economic development to flourish in Africa, the continent must strive to maintain due process, because it’s in the heart of the rule of law and democracy.
He noted that in 2007, this principle prevented a possible truncation of democracy, because the parliament stood strong on due process, saying the bid to extend Obasanjo’s presidency beyond the constitutional limit failed.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of democracy and liberty. Our vigilance for democracy requires that we learn from our history, a history of success and failure. This is why I wrote this book: to remind us of the dangerous path we could have taken but for the vigilance and courage of some legislators and to challenge us to never abandon the responsibility of protecting due process for our democracy to survive.
“Our democracy was tested in 2006, it passed. It was tested again in 2015 and passed. This has culminated in the Buhari presidency. The crucial 2015 test would not have been if we failed the 2006 test. The 2006 test was a test of whether leaders will rise above fear and the politics of the strongman to strengthen democracy by upholding due process. It was a test of solidity of our legislatures,” he said.
Nnamani, however, stressed that the story of what happened with the Third Term saga had been told by many people, but that what he aimed to offer in his book was the reflection of someone, who was at the driver’s seat during the journey.
According to him, “as expected, there have been some serious omissions and plenty of whitewashes about the role of some individuals in the saga. My focus is to narrate the facts in a manner that will help my compatriots appreciate the role that individuals, who face a crisis and remain committed to core values can play in taking society to a higher level.”
The former lawmaker said the experience of the Third Term saga illustrated how a combination of good institutions and good leadership could save a people during political turbulence.
He said, “It is often said that the heart of constitutional democracy is representation. Where the legislature is strong and truly representative, the people are protected against authoritarian impulses that often characterise public leadership. Where the legislature is weak and captured by special interests, the bulwark against autocracy is easily dismantled.”
On his part, Chairman of the occasion and former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, said Nigeria has unfortunate habit of not preserving history.
“It is a classic history of a country and we have the unfortunate habit of not valueing and preserving our history. The result is that the lies and the distortions that hit the headlines survive.
“So, I will want all of you if you forget everything this morning, you mustn’t forget the fact that the records of what really happened has been documented and everybody should try and possess it, read it and look out for witnesses. So, Ken, I am glad you are still standing strong. We are behind you.”