Posted by News Express | 2 November 2013 | 4,165 times
Former Vice-President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has revealed that he “blasted” his then boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, over his bid to run for a second term.
Abubakar made the disclosure during an interview with a newspaper published in Hausa.
In the interview published by an online publication on Friday, Abubakar also disclosed that he and Obasanjo argued over his failed third term bid. Atiku said during one of their arguments, Obasanjo gave him a Quran to swear loyalty to him.
He said, “At first we started arguing, and then he (Obasanjo) opened his drawer and brought out a copy of the Quran and asked me to swear that I will not be disloyal to him. There was nothing I did not tell him in that room. The first thing I told him was that I swore with the Quran to defend the Constitution of Nigeria. Why are you now giving me the Quran to swear for you again? What if I swear for you and you go against the constitution?
“Secondly, I looked at him and told him that if I don’t like you or don’t support you, would I have called 19 northern governors to meet for three days in my house in Kaduna only for us to turn our back on you?
“Thirdly, I asked him, what are you even doing with the Quran? Are you a Muslim that you would even administer an oath on me with the Quran? I was angry, and I really blasted him. He asked me to forgive him and he returned the Quran back to the drawer, and we came out.”
Obasanjo’s third term bid failed following public outcry over what many saw as unconstitutional.
Speaking further about the controversial bid, which could have taken Obasanjo to a record 12 years as the country’s president, Atiku said he vehemently told Obasanjo to leave after the completion of his second term in office.
He said, “In fact we had the same kind of altercation when he was gunning for third term, he informed me that “I left power twenty years ago, I left Mubarak in office, I left Mugabe in office, I left Eyadema in office, I left Umar Bongo, and even Paul Biya and I came back and they are still in power; and I just did eight years and you are asking me to go; why?” And I responded to him by telling him that Nigeria is not Libya, not Egypt, not Cameroun, and not Togo; I said you must leave; even if it means both of us lose out, but you cannot stay.”
Obasanjo and Atiku fell out at some point during their administration, with reports that the two did not see eye to eye.
There were also unconfirmed reports that the two of them fell out because Obasanjo went back on his promise to use one term in office and support Atiku’s candidacy for the presidency after his four years. Some reports claimed that Obasanjo had to go on his knees to seek Atiku’s support for his second term.
Atiku denied that his former boss went on his knees to plead for his support. He, however, said that Obasanjo visited his residence to plead for his support.
He said, “Honestly, he did not kneel down for me. But he did come to my house and I refused to see him. And he knocked my door continuously and asked me in the name of God to come out, so I came out, and we went downstairs, and he asked me to join him in his car and I said, no, because of security reasons, but he insisted. So when we entered his car, I never knew that he had gone round states pavilions and asking for the support of governors and delegates and they refused to listen to him because they have not seen us together. So that was why he came and picked me up so that we would go round together. There is something that many people did not know before, which I will tell you now.
“We sat with party elders and discussed the issue of Presidency and there was debate as to whether the South will have eight or four years? If the South had eight years, so the north too should have eight years subsequently. After lots of debates, it was finally agreed that the South should have eight years. And when power returns to the north, they should also have it for eight years.
“However, governors objected to this arrangement. I was then in a dilemma; is the governors’ objection genuine or just a political gimmick. What if I followed them to run against the president and they later on turn their back on me and align with the president? At the end of the day, one would neither be a vice president or a president because politics is a slippery game.”
Concerning his role in the recent breakup of the Peoples Democratic Party, where Abubakar led a number of PDP governors out of the party’s convention, Abubakar said they had spent four months plotting the move.
He said, “We have been planning for some time because we have spent almost four months planning how to split the PDP.
“At first I didn’t know the arrowhead, but they eventually came and met me and I joined them because their reasons are the same with the ones I have been fighting against within the party; lack of fairness, honesty and tyranny. If I can fight the military to restore democracy, why can’t I fight fellow politicians?”
Abubakar added that the breakaway faction of the party had appealed a court judgment declaring its association illegal.
“We have appealed; and we are planning seriously, you will see what will happen,” he said.
•Credit (except headline): Saturday PUNCH. Photo shows Atiku.
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