Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
…New book chronicles how former president crippled ex-VP
By Vincent Obia
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo heavily enriched himself in office, ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s men have claimed in a new book due to be released anytime from now.
The book also presents the grim details of how Obasanjo crippled his deputy, Atiku, in office at the height of their disagreement in 2003.
According to the authors, Obasanjo who “in 1999 had less than N20, 000 in his bank account” grew to acquire monumental assets.
Entitled “Atiku Media Office: The Wars, The Victories,” the book put in perspective the acrimonious relationship between Obasanjo and Atiku while in office.
The former vice-president’s spokesman, Mallam Shehu Garba, “and others” authored the book, a copy of which was made available to THISDAY at the weekend.
Speaking on Obasanjo’s assets, the authors said: “It is, however, ironic that the same EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), whose only allegation against Atiku Abubakar is authorisation of placement of deposits in interest-yielding bank accounts, failed to see anything wrong or even curious is a situation where Obasanjo who in 1999 had less than N20,000 in his bank account managed to acquire several highly mechanised multi-million naira farms in all the six geo-political zones of the country; Obasanjo palm oil farms in Calabar; his farm at Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, the biggest of its kind in Africa; big fish farms in Lanlate and Ota; a big poultry farm in Ibogun and oil palm and estate at Ehuuagie, Rivers State.
“As if that was not enough, Obasanjo’s investments allegedly stretch across all sectors of the economy with such ventures as the multi-million naira Temperance Hotel, Ota; the Bells Secondary School and University; Transcorp, which owns the Abuja Hilton, NITEL, oil blocks; steel company, as well as a speculated interest in the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Ikot-Abasi, which was allegedly sold to foreign interests allegedly at a price believed to be far below its actual value.”
Obasanjo could not be reached last night to respond to what is contained in the book. Several calls put to his phones were not answered while some of his media aides contacted, declined comments.
In a revealing chapter titled, “Constitutional and Political Background to the Obasanjo/Atiku Conflict,” the authors also traced the history of Obasanjo’s emergence as president in 1999 to the efforts of some retired military generals who collaborated with the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) machine of the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, then being led by Atiku.
Although Atiku would later emerge Obasanjo’s running mate and subsequently vice-president, General Ibrahim Babangida, Lt. General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (rtd) and a few Northern leaders who supported Obasanjo did not take kindly to this arrangement, according to the authors.
The problem between Obasanjo and Atiku, the authors said, started with the 2003 presidential election against an earlier alleged expectation that the former president would spend only one term.
The authors detailed how Obasanjo deployed EFCC to fight the ex-vice president on charges of corruption and how the former president took over the Peoples Democratic Party and appointed his men as party leaders.
According to them, the former president began to cripple Atiku by moving to “control such petty things as allocation of staff vehicles, office and residential accommodation or determine who should be entitled to lunch at the State House.
“Even visitors to the Office of the Vice President had to be screened by the Chief Security Officer to the President. Things would get even more ludicrous in the times ahead as Obasanjo took on the micro management of the State House.”
According to the authors, Atiku took all that in his strides, including the demand by Obasanjo that his (Atiku’s) top aides like Dr. Adeolu Akande, Mallam Shehu Garaba and Prof. Sam Oyovbaire had to give way, but fought back when it emerged the former president was working on a third term in office.
On the failed third term project, the authors of the book alleged that former Information Minister Jerry Gana and ex-Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Kanu Agabi had included a controversial clause in the draft report of a committee working on constitution amendment at the time.
The authors wrote: “Shortly after their re-election in 2003, the President sent emissaries to his deputy to discuss the issue of constitutional amendment, which a committee headed by Information Minister Jerry Gana was working on.
“Gana, accompanied by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, had included a controversial clause in their draft report that would give Obasanjo an unprecedented third term in office.
“Whilst Atiku had been adjudged by his staff to have the patience of a doormat, in this instance, he was forced to bare his teeth in the face of Obasanjo’s shameless excesses. Atiku described the proposed amendment as unconstitutional and that he would not support such an illegality.
“He told the President’s men to take the message back to him. That was the first real confirmation of the rumour that Obasanjo was scheming for a third term.”