Obasanjo Wanted Life Presidency, Not Third Term – Atiku Reveals
BEVERLY HILLS, November 14,(THEWILL) – Former Vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has revealed that his then principal, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to pave the way for a lifetime presidency and not just a third term in office as supposed by many during the botched constitution amendment at the time.
He noted that it was initially assumed that the plan was to modify the Constitution to allow Obasanjo serve another four-year term as President after spending the maximum two terms allowed.
Speaking in an interview with a quarterly magazine published by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Zero Tolerance, Atiku disclosed that the aspect of tenure limitation was carefully removed so that Obasanjo could be President for life.
Revealing why he and Obasanjo were at loggerheads towards the end of their tenure, the ex-vice president said, “My offence was that I disagreed with him on the amendment of the constitution to remove tenure/term limits or what was popularly called the 'third term agenda'”.
He continued, “In fact, he sent the then Attorney-General and Prof. Jerry Gana to my office to bring the draft amendments to the constitution. After going through (them), I found out that tenure limits had been removed. In other words, he could be President for life.
“I then asked them that 'if I send you to the President, can you deliver this message?' They said yes. I said 'go and tell him I will not support it and will fight it'.”
Atiku disclosed that the ex-president decided to tag him as a corrupt person due to their disagreement, adding that the then Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, accused him of corruption but later came to him to apologise.
His words, “When he came to ask me for forgiveness, I said if you want me to forgive you, Nuhu, go to the same television stations where you said I was corrupt and say you now (have) realised that I am not corrupt.
“Then he said 'sir, you have forgiven so many people who have offended you publicly without them going to TV stations to apologise to you' and I said, 'your case is different because first of all, I helped to found the EFCC'.
“I was instrumental to your appointment, so, I believe I have contributed to your development and this is how you are paying me back. In any case, he kept on apologising and I said, 'okay, no problem. That closed the chapter'.”
The former vice president also denied media reports that a United States Senate report accused him of laundering $40m in the US between 2000 and 2008.
Admitting that he did transfer money to the US, he said the action was not illegal, adding that: “It was an allegation which was not proved. It was my legitimate money which I transferred to the US; there was nothing (wrong) about it. More so, I was not indicted in that report. They only said suspicious funds but I proved before the Senate committee that they were not suspicious”.
The former vice president explained that the accusations emanated from his dealings with a Louisiana congressman, William Jefferson.
He explained that Jefferson had approached him for a communications project but he referred the American to the minister of communications.
Atiku said the US lawmaker collected $100,000 from a woman under the pretext of using it to bribe him (Atiku), adding that he, however, rejected the money which he described as too little for a man of his status.
He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, subsequently searched his wife's US home but nothing incriminating was found.
“Apparently, I didn't know he (Jefferson) had duped a lady and collected marked money from her in my name. Unknown to him, the FBI were on his trail. But, of course, there was no way he could give me money because what was $100,000 to me?
“Eventually, my wife's residence was searched and nothing was found but when his residence was searched, of course, the money was found there and he was convicted. I was not even called as a witness,” Atiku said.