Orji Uzor Kalu has narrated the ordeal surrounding the failure of the third term bid of the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo in his new book.
Kalu, who is a key actor in the process, in his autobiography titled “My Life”, has alleged the ex-president of paying N50 million to each senators in order to vote in favour of the bill.
However, the former governor disclosed that the forces against the bill had devised more effective strategies to ensure the bill was never passed.
Furthermore, he revealed that true hero behind the termination of the tenure enlogation bid was the then senate president, Ibrahim Mantu, who was supposedly seen as the one spearheading the bill.
Towards the end of his tenure in 2007, Obasanjo was reported to have attempted ruling for a third term, after occupying the office of the president for the two terms permitted by the constitution.
A bill to amend the 1999 constitution to that effect and extend term limits by another four years eventually failed to pass at the national assembly.
Mantu, then-chairman of the senate constitution review committee, was seen by many as the arrowhead of the tenure elongation project.
But in his autobiography, a copy of which was made available to newsmen, Kalu, a serving governor at the time, said no one worked against Obasanjo’s continued stay in office more than Mantu.
He said the former deputy senate president had collaborated with him in recruiting those who voted against the constitutional amendment bill and was careful in choosing key senators they would worked with.
He wrote: “I have seen a lot of people claiming credit for the failure of Obasanjo’s third term bid. If there is any credit for it, it has to go to Senator Ibrahim Mantu. He is the true hero of the third term war. The hero of what we did should be Mantu and nobody else, because he was the one who brought the strategy of how we will do it, he was the one who told me not to tell Ken Nnamani, the senate president.
“He told me that the senate president was on both sides of the Atlantic. He said nothing we discussed should get to Nnamani because he was with them while he would appear to be with us. I insisted that we carried the senate president along, but Mantu assured me that Obasanjo will get everything we discussed with the Senate President within seconds.
“He also told me to be careful with Senator David Mark because he too will brief Obasanjo about anything that was said to his hearing pertaining to the third term project. That was how we left both senator Nnamani and Mark out of the loop in our plot to destroy the third term agenda. Mantu and I promised ourselves during the process and coordinated those we recruited to vote against the amendment.
“Obasanjo broke the central bank open and gave each senator N50 million to vote for the third term. Chukwumerije brought his own to Abia liaison office in Abuja to show me and I asked him to go and give it back to them, and I arranged fifty million naira of my own and gave to him, just to encourage him.
“And so everybody, even those fighting corruption, knew that this money came from the CBN. They did not say anything.
“We had plan A, plan B and plan C strategies to stop the third term. Unfortunately, some of the governors we were meeting with, I don’t want to mention names were only meeting with us to have something to take back to Obasanjo. They were neither here nor there.
“Mantu was the one who scuttled the third term, and in doing so, he incurred Obasanjo’s eternal hatred. So Nigerians should celebrate him.”