The House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila has said his struggle against the third term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo almost cost him his life.
Gbajabiamila shared his travails during the third term agenda in his recently published memoirs, “Mr Speaker,” authored by Musa Abdullahi Krishi and Dr Charles Omole.
He revealed that agents of the botched attempt at subverting constitutional orders in Nigeria under President Obasanjo made life uncomfortable for him and his opposition colleagues in the House.
The lawmaker stated that while pro-third term lawmakers in the House were launching physical attacks, an incident occured with a former colleague, Independence Ogunewe, who almost strangled him to death on the floor of the House in 2006.
He added that there were numerous death threats from outside the Legislature.
Speaking further, Gbajabiamila claimed that another set of individuals also mobilized his constituents to launch a fierce campaign against his reelection bid in 2011, using his stance against Obasanjo’s Third Term Agenda as a basis to block his reelection.
He said: “Of course, I mean, that was one of my toughest elections,” Gbajabiamila recalled, saying, i sounded like a hypocrite to people who didn’t know better or who didn’t understand the constitution.
“Because there you were, you made a name for yourself, you fought, much to the admiration of everybody and stopped what became known as Third Term Agenda, and shortly after that you now had a third term agenda yourself, this is as simple as they understood it.
“But first of all, look at the background: in my constituency, nobody had ever gone back to the House twice, so you broke that jinx and you’ve gone back twice. Then coming on the heels of the fight that you fought, that everybody fought, that the whole of Nigeria did not want a Third Term Agenda, you are now asking for a third term agenda? That’s the height of hypocrisy: that’s how they saw it.
“So I had to go round, it was a lot, trying to explain and educate the electorate. That no two-term limit is only applicable to the Executive under the constitution; it is clear in the constitution.
“That for the legislator, not just in Nigeria but worldwide, you can go fifty times if your people want you back. I gave them examples, and I made it clear to them that there is no term limit in the constitution for legislators, whereas there is a term limit for Governors and Presidents, and I gave them reasons why there is a difference, why there is a term limit for the Executive, and then they began to understand.
“What could be argued is that was he Obasanjo aware? Was he instrumental? Was he a part of it? Or as we know it in Nigerian politics and even politics worldwide, was it the people around him who turned a deaf ear? Or was it the people around him and he cautioned them?
“Obasanjo had reacted to the Third Term question by saying: “Well, I’m sick and tired of you people and Third Term because if I wanted Third Term, I would have got it by the grace of God. If I wanted it. There was nothing I wanted when I was President that I didn’t get, including very difficult debt relief. If I wanted Third Term, I would have got Third Term. Now the person who was my representative in the National Assembly, Ita Giwa, said to any of you that was my representative to the National Assembly, there was no day I called her and I said I wanted Third Term.”