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untarily. Even during this current, supposedly golden age of Nigerian democracy, former president Oluse- gun Obasanjo tried to have the constitution amended to allow him to serve a third term in a desperate bid to remain in power.38

Although the coup d’état that destroyed the First Republic weakened the north’s grip on power, it by no means broke it entirely. In fact, of the 11 heads of state who followed General Aguiyi-Ironsi, nine were northerners including the present incumbent, Umaru Yar’Adua. Yet even so, this power did not really ben- efit ordinary people living in the north. They, like their compatriots in other parts of the country, continued to be largely excluded from the political process. This was certainly the case throughout the long years of military rule. For much of their time in office, Generals Aguiyi-Ironsi, Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Obasan- jo, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), and Sani Abacha used the extensive emergen- cy powers they granted themselves to rule by decree. What limited consultation took place, seldom, if ever, included ordinary people or their self-chosen repre- sentatives.

The situation has scarcely improved under the ci- vilian leaders who have held power continuously since they reclaimed it in May 1999.39 All too quickly, in fact, the hope and expectation that accompanied Obasanjo’s election as president gave way first to alarm and then dejection. The gloom was lifted slightly by his failure to secure a third term in office and his eventual, albeit reluctant, surrender of power to Yar’Adua, who nois- ily declared his enthusiasm for the rule of law. But he has since returned with a vengeance, and continues to deepen the longer Yar’Adua’s presidency lasts, as he stubbornly refuses to display any such commitment


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