New revelation on how the rift between former president Olusegun Obassanjo and his former vice, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has been revealed by Theophilus Danjuma, a former chief of Army staff.
According to Danjuma, Nigeria’s former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, tried to drive a wedge between Obasanjo and his vice, Atiku Abubakar, in the first term of their administration between 1999 and 2003.
Premium Times reports that Danjuma disclosed this at a meeting on October 25, 2002 with then United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Howard Jeter, in Abuja.
It added that a diplomatic cable dated November 5, 2002 recorded the meeting and was published by Wikileaks.
“After nine months of failing to convince Obasanjo to eject Atiku, IBB decided to focus on manipulating Atiku,” Danjuma said.
“According to Danjuma, IBB has hoodwinked Atiku, who now believes he has IBB’s support.
Noting that IBB once fired Atiku from his job as head of customs because of rumored links with ’drug barons’ and that he considers the Vice President to be ‘lazy and corrupt,’
Danjuma said he thought Atiku had been blinded by his own ambition, saying ‘Babangida is singing a song he (Atiku) wants to hear.”
The former chief of Army staff said as part of his plan to weaken Obasanjo:
“Atiku planted the ‘Mandela Option’ stories in the Nigerian press leading to calls for the President to step down after his first term in order to cement the transition to democracy.
“Danjuma sees this as playing right into IBB’s hands. If Obasanjo can be convinced not to run, Atiku would represent an easy opponent for IBB or his surrogate.
If Obasanjo stays in the race, Danjuma said the notoriously tight-fisted President would need to spend far more money to insure his victory in the PDP primary.”
It was reported further that a week before the meeting with Danjuma, the US ambassador meet with Mr Abubakar for 90 minutes and the former vice president reportedly said his relationship with Obasanjo was in tatters and provided a detailed chronology of the relationship.
“Atiku said that he and Obasanjo were relative strangers before the 1998 prelude to the 1999 elections. Their nexus was the late Shehu Yar A’dua.
Yar A’dua was second-in-command during Obasanjo’s stint as military Head of State. Yar A’dua was also Atiku’s political mentor.
Atiku inherited leadership of Yar A’dua’s political machine, the PDM, when the general died in detention, likely at the sinister hand of the late Sani Abacha.
“Atiku recalled not only working for Obasanjo’s release from prison but also assisting in his ascent to the Presidency. Atiku stated that he along with former Heads of State Babangida and Abdulsalami and current NSA Aliyu Mohammed were the four men most responsible for Obasanjo’s successful climb.
“Seeking to redeem his image after the 1993 electoral debacle, Babangida convinced Obasanjo to run, then placed his considerable clout and money into the ‘Obasanjo Project.’
While Babangiba pulled the strings from Minna, General Mohammed performed much of the legwork while also drumming up other support.
“Then head of state Abdulsalami backdated Obasanjo’s pardon, an act that allowed him to be eligible to contest in the election.
Abdulsalami also funneled money into the campaign and steered the considerable powers of incumbency to Obasanjo’s favor.
“Atiku’s contribution was political. Exploiting the PDM (People’s Democratic Movement, a political group formed by Mr Yar’Adua) machinery, Atiku successfully engineered Obasanjo’s primary victories in the PDP.
Along with Babangida and the others, he recalled working hard to ensure Obasanjo’s nomination at the convention.
“It was at that point, Obasanjo asked Atiku, already Adamawa State’s governor-elect and very content with that status, to be his Vice-Presidential running mate.
Atiku accepted. “On paper, Obasanjo had the credentials of a perfect leader – a perceived detribalised Yoruba with ties to the North, a former military leader with a good record, and good standing in the international arena; but, in practice, he had fallen far too short of the mark, Atiku lamented.”
Meanwhile, the diplomats noted in the report that:
“Atiku’s version of his selection differs from common lore. Most accounts have a reluctant Obasanjo being pressured to take Atiku because of need to cement the support of the PDM faction of the party and to balance the ticket with a running-mate from the North.
“Although they did not know each other well, Atiku recalled that the two quickly melded. However, there was an early premonition that foreshadowed today’s troubles.
“Atiku recounted having agreed with Obasanjo on whom they would back for the Senate leadership.
Shortly thereafter, Atiku went to the United States only to discover Obasanjo had changed heart, selecting another person for the Senate president.
“According to Atiku, the shift was precipitated by presidential advisors warning Obasanjo that an Atiku loyalist should not be Senate President because Atiku already had too much influence in the Lower House.
With one of his men as Senate President, they warned that Atiku could engineer Obasanjo’s impeachment.
Atiku stated that he acquiesced in the change in order to avoid a confrontation with Obasanjo so early in the Administration.
“Atiku stated that the relationship with Obasanjo assumed its current negative momentum in April, during preparations for Obasanjo’s reelection announcement.
“Pointing the finger at Works and Housing Minister Tony Anenih as the main culprit, Atiku accused Obasanjo’s ‘handlers’ of purposefully misinforming the President that he was angling to announce his presidential bid before Obasanjo’s was announced.
Obasanjo came to believe these innuendoes when Atiku refused to participate in Anenih’s convoking of party figures at Obasanjo’s farm in Ota to ‘request’ that Obasanjo run again.”
Meanwhile, Continentourcom.ng had reported that the Miyetti Allah Kautal Fulani said that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, is not Fulani.
The Punch reports that Saleh Alhassan who is the national secretary of the group was reacting to Atiku’s alleged claim that President Muhammadu Buhari is not a real Fulani.
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