A member of the Atiku Abubakar presidential election technical committee, AbdulRasheed Shehu, has responded to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s statement that choosing Atiku to be his vice president was a mistake.
Speaking at an event organized by the Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship at the weekend, Obasanjo recalled two mistakes he made as a military head of state and as a civilian president.
He described the choice of Atiku as his running mate in the 1999 presidential election as a “genuine mistake” that God saved him from.
The former president said his second mistake was during the military regime of Sani Abacha, when he rejected an offer for asylum in the United States when he was to be arrested, detained and possibly killed by the regime.
“One of the mistakes I made was picking my number two when I wanted to become the President. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.
“The second one was when Abacha wanted to arrest me. When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American ambassador that they would arrest me and that America had asked that I should be given an asylum. I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.
“I will say there are many things that could have been a mistake but God saved me from them all,” he stated during the event held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
But responding to Obasanjo in a tweet, Shehu, who is founder of the Atiku Kawai Media Group, claimed that the former president was “still bitter” that Atiku frustrated his tenure elongation agenda, otherwise known as ‘Third Term Agenda’ in 2007.
“Surprisingly, OBJ is still bitter about his failed 3rd term agenda. Although the PDP family holds him in high esteem, his recent statement is unbecoming. Had @atiku not fought that selfish and unconditional drive, Yar’adua, Jonathan, and Buhari wouldn’t have sniffed the presidency,” tweeted Shehu.
Atiku, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was supported by Obasanjo when he ran against the incumbent President Muhammadu in the 2019 polls.
Obasanjo served as Nigeria’s president from 1999 to 2007 with Atiku as his vice president.
He had denied having a hand in the tenure elongation agenda which was a plan to modify the constitution to enable him serve a third four-year term as president at the end of his second term in 2007.
But the then Senate President, Ken Nnamani, had faulted Obasanjo’s claim, saying the former president told him personally about the third term plan and that the executive arm eventually sponsored a bill to that effect.
“Immediately I became Senate President, he told me of his intentions and told me how he wanted to achieve it. I initially did not take him seriously until the events began to unfold,” Nnamani had told The Punch in a 2012 interview.
“There was a time that there was a rumour that heavy sums of money were doled out to National Assembly members (Senate), that each of us received N50m – that translates into more than N8bn, including other sums that were shared.
“If he (Obasanjo) is claiming that the third term was not his agenda, where could such money have come from and for what purpose? Didn’t he give instructions to the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor then to dole out the money?
“If he is claiming that he never initiated the idea, who then initiated the release of more than N8bn from the CBN coffers? Is it not only the president that has access to CBN vaults? Or does any lawmaker or senator have access to it?
“How can someone talk like this that he didn’t know about it, yet money, both in local and foreign currencies, exchanged hands,” he asked.
“I am telling you that as the man who presided over it (third term bill), that it was an executive bill. I can defend this anywhere and anytime, with more than enough facts that I have given to you. No one should claim ignorance. If anyone is saying that the bill was not an executive bill, then such a person is only being a liar. At a certain age in life, there are certain things one shouldn’t expect from an old man.”
Source: The Whistler.