An erstwhile Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na ’abba, has revealed how much former President, Olusegun Obasanjo paid each of the National Assembly members in 2006 to make him life president.
He said the third term agenda, which involved a constitutional amendment, and the elimination of constitutional term limit was for Obasanjo to be President for life.
Speaking in an interview with Punch, Na’abba said that Obasanjo gave N50 million to each of the Senators and N40 million to each member of the Green chamber.
He said while some lawmakers collected the money and backed the former President, others turned down the offer.
He said, “What came to my mind was that the third term agenda was undemocratic and since it involved a constitutional amendment, which would eliminate constitutional term limits, it was not going to be an agenda for the President to have a third term, it was for him to be President for life.
“So my first instinct was to be wary of it and I thought that I must fight to ensure that it did not see the light of day. So that was how other Nigerians and I collaborated to help campaign against it and to eventually cause the National Assembly to vote against the constitutional amendment that could have allowed it.
“What happened in the 2003 elections was that the President and the party (Peoples Democratic Party) colluded to have as many members as possible that would be favorably disposed to the elimination of term limits to be brought to the legislature, so they were in the majority.
“If it were a simple majority that was needed to alter the constitution, that agenda would have been passed but fortunately, it was not so. For that amendment to be able to go through, it must be passed by two – thirds of the members of each of the chambers of the National Assembly and they could not get that.
On the allegation that some legislators were paid several millions of naira to support the move, he added, “Yes, we were aware that money was distributed to legislators. The senators collected N50m each; the senators that subscribed to the agenda.
“Those who opposed it refused to collect the money and that also happened with the House of Representatives’ members.
“Forty million naira was offered to each of the House of Representatives’ members who subscribed to that agenda and those who did not subscribe to it were not given the money.
“But that notwithstanding, it was the 2003 elections that ushered in many unelected members to the National Assembly.
“A lot of them were not duly elected; the election was rigged for them to get into the legislature to pursue a particular political order and that order was the removal of term limits from the constitution.”