Friday, April 07, 2006

Reciprocal resignations

What Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola once called an "illusion" is now becoming a serious source of destabilization in Nigerian politics.

The Financial Times reports (Friday, April 7):
Nigeria’s president and vice- president have called for each other’s resignation in what is seen by diplomats as a significant threat to stability in the world’s eighth largest oil exporter.


Tensions are high among the political elite, who expect a geo-political reordering if and when Mr Obasanjo, a Christian southerner, steps down. Politicians from the Muslim-dominated north expect to see a Muslim northerner as the next president.

The tensions manifested themselves earlier this year in a bout of religious violence, which killed at least 130 people. The oil-producing Niger Delta has also been subject to militant attacks that have cut about a quarter of the oil output.


Legislators said Mr Obasanjo did not have the two-thirds majority in the national assembly to change the constitution, with both chambers evenly split.
And yet I suspect it may happen anyway, despite couching the bid in language that would suggest to the gullible that he is only waiting for permission from his legislature (March 30):
Asked whether he was planning to run for a third-term through an amendment to the constitution, Obasanjo said, "The plan I have now is to complete the term that I constitutionally have in my hand. But the amendment of the constitution is the legal and legitimate responsibility of the National Assembly. If the National Assembly want to do their job, nobody should prevent them or tell them not to do it…. But for me now, that is not on the card. What is on the card is moving Nigeria forward within the term and constitutional responsibility that I have now."
Here in the US, despite John Negroponte's warning of "disruption of oil supply, secessionist moves by regional governments, major refugee flows, and instability elsewhere in West Africa," President Bush apparently did not feel it was important to bring up the constitutional issue, this according to President Obasanjo himself, claiming that it was an internal Nigerian issue.

I guess moving naval groups off the Gulf of Guinea is sufficient warning.

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