Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has been painted in a new light if the revelations in his former cabinet member, Nasir el-Rufai’s tell all book are true.
In the book entitled, “The Accidental Public Servant”, el-Rufai alleges Obasanjo said he would run Aso Rock from his farm in Ota. He also alleges Obasanjo got on his knees to beg his deputy Atiku Abubakar to put aside the quarrels between them so he could clinch the PDP re-run ticket in 2003.
El-Rufai reounts the words of the former president: “Well, nothing will change, you know. I will be in Ota but we will be running things. Everything will remain the same, you know. You will remain in the government, the economic team will remain. Nothing will change. Only I will move to Ota and Yar’Adua will be here but we will be running things.”
In the 627-page book, El-Rufai said on page 151, “The stakes were high enough for Obasanjo to swallow his considerable pride and go to Atiku on bended knees.
“Obasanjo had no problem going down on his knees to beg for what he thought was impossible to obtain any other way.”
He says the even transpired in 2003 when Obasanjo required Atiku’s support to clinch the PDP’s re-nomination bid.
“The political bricksmanship got so bad that Obasanjo had to visit Atiku’s residence unannounced to plead for Atiku’s support.
“Upon arriving at his deputy’s residence, he reportedly knelt before Atiku and begged the vice-president to remain onside, thus guaranteeing the support of the 17 PDP governors. In return, Obasanjo had to agree to retain Atiku as his running mate (he was rumoured at the time to be considering an alternative).”
el-Rufai also questioned Obasanjo’s choice of Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan as the PDP candidates in 2007. He said the decision was “the final nail in the coffin of any meritocracy or track record of governance in Nigeria.
“President Obasanjo chose Umaru Yar’Adua whose ill-health, among other challenges, was known already constituted a serious impediment to the possibility of any inspired and energetic leadership. The view of many well-informed Nigerians is that Yar’Adua and his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, emerged for no other discernable reasons than being ‘weak’ governors sympathetic to the ‘Third Term’ project and therefore handpicked as payback.
“The subsequent electoral imposition of Goodluck Jonathan as president in 2011 via military occupation and rigging has been unhelpful in raising leadership quality. Jonathan went into a presidential contest without a campaign manifesto, boasting of no experience, merit and any track record of previous performance other than wearing no shoes to school and his ‘good luck’.”