Opposition to a third term is particularly strong in the predominantly Muslim north, which had expected to take over in 2007 after eight years of Obasanjo, a Christian from the southwest.The move has been broadly denounced by religious groups throughout the country, even by Christian Association of Nigeria Vice-President Dr Mike Okonkwo. Yet, Obasanjo supporter, and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), has hedged his bets:
The campaign has also infuriated many ethnic Ijaw, the dominant ethnic group in the Niger Delta in the far south, because they have not produced a president in Nigeria's 46 years of independence despite being home to all the oil wealth.
Militant attacks on the oil industry there have cut exports by a quarter.
For me, that's an illusion. People are talking about third term but has the President ever said he was going for third term? He has even denied it several times both at home and abroad.True, Obasanjo has, according to Reuters, "studiously avoided saying whether he wants to stand for election again next year," but some day the President will have to say something, and we will have Akinola's comments to look forward to.
The Constitution does not allow it. And he is not just a Nigerian leader but a world leader. So, you think he will want to tarnish his own image? He is a force to be reckoned with in the affairs of the world today. Those who are talking about it are gaining from it. There are many Nigerians who specialize in fomenting trouble. And they feed fat in chaos. To me it's a non-issue. He has denied it several times. If the man comes out and asks Nigerians to give him another chance, that is when I can comment. For now, I have no comment about third term. Other than to warn those orchestrating it to be careful.
But, of course, if the constitution is changed with no public urging from President Obasanjo, then Obasanjo will be eligible to run in the 2007 elections without being accused of exceeding his lawful powers. I kind of think that's what's going on.
In that case, if Akinola is the establishment figure I have come to believe him to be (I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that the Archbishop asked for the Gay Marriage legislation (pdf) to be drafted, as alleged by Davis Mac-Iyalla of Changing Attitude Nigeria), then he may make little more than a peep.