Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar reportedly saved ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo from near bankruptcy before he emerged president in 1999.
According to a new book titled ‘Too Good to Die: Third Term and the Myth of the Indispensable Man in Africa’, Atiku made all his resources available for Obasanjo’s presidential campaign.
The book was written by Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and Ayisha Osori, author of ‘Love Does Not Win Elections’.
In the book, a copy of which was obtained by TheCable, the authors told of how Obasanjo beat late Alex Ekwueme to the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 1999 election.
Quoting an account from Atiku, the authors said the trio of Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma and Abdulsalami Abubakar wanted PDP to adopt Obasanjo as their presidential candidate “because they considered him the best person for the job”.
“Implicit in their position was their belief that they knew how to manipulate Obasanjo and the fact that Obasanjo did their bidding in 1979. They felt secure that he could be managed again,” the authors wrote.
Atiku was reportedly asked to join a team to Ogun to inform Obasanjo that he was going to run for the highest office in the land.
According to the book, “when Atiku and Obasanjo discussed the call to serve as president, Obasanjo said he could not be president because he was a nearly bankrupt ex-convict. Atiku, through General [Aliyu] Gusau, paid money into Obasanjo’s account to begin his financial rehabilitation.
“Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar helped out by granting him an unconditional pardon. Atiku put everything he had at his disposal to support Obasanjo’s emergence as the PDP presidential candidate and, when he joined the ticket as the vice-presidential nominee, continued to make his assets available to Obasanjo and the campaign.
“During a campaign stop in Atiku’s village, Jada, Adamawa state, Obasanjo spent a night in Atiku’s home. When he woke up the next day, he reportedly asked Atiku when he built the house and, to Atiku’s response, reportedly retorted: “[I] will never be poor again.”
Atiku served as vice-president to Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007. He aspired to succeed Obasanjo in 2003 but the elder statesman went ahead to complete another term.
By 2007 when Obasanjo’s second term ended, both men had fallen apart. Obasanjo’s plan to go for a third term was also said to have worsened their dispute.
Obasanjo recently kicked against Atiku’s presidential ambition, saying the former vice-president “can never enjoy” his support for a political office.