Friday 1 February 2013

2011: OBJ wanted Buhari/Okonjo-Iweala ticket – El-Rufai

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as president, had wanted to support a gang-up of opposition parties to challenge Dr Goodluck Jonathan, with General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) as presidential candidate in the build-up to the 2011 presidential election, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, has said.
El-Rufai, who made the revelation in his upcoming memoir titled “The Accidental Public Servant,” a copy of which was obtained by Blueprint, narrated how the embittered Obasanjo strategised to dislodge Jonathan from clinching the presidency, declaring that Jonathan would be incompetent for the job.
The book, which chronicled El-Rufai’s years in the presidency as head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises and later as minister, also exposes many political intrigues that happened during the eight-year presidency of Obasanjo and beyond.
Obasanjo, in the words of El-Rufai, also offered to resign his chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, were the opposition figures agree to go by his conditions. He also pledged to get financiers for the oppositions’ coalition.
According to the former minister, Obasanjo had decided to stab Jonathan on the back, whom he had picked as running mate to Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua four years ago, over squabbles in the Ogun state chapter of the PDP that saw Obasanjo’s men schemed out.
El-Rufai recalled that Obasanjo summoned him to his hotel room in Abuja on January 25, 2011 and briefed him on his intention to support the candidacy of Buhari if the latter agreed to pick Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as his running mate.
The then president, according to El-Rufai, also advised the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to merge with the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in order to provide a formidable opposition.
Another condition given by Obasanjo was for the CPC to allocate the Senate presidency to the South-West to enable them secure the backing of the then Lagos state governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
El-Rufai said: “Obasanjo … said that he concurred with my earlier belief that Jonathan would not make a competent president and that the best presidential candidate of the whole lot was Buhari. He expressed willingness to support Buhari and go public with it if CPC and Buhari are willing to consider his suggestions and implement them.
“Obasanjo suggested that I should convince Buhari to pick Ngozi as his running mate, enter immediately into an alliance with the ACN and ANPP, and then offer the Senate president’s position to the South-west to secure Tinubu’s support.”
However, according to El-Rufai, when he took Obasanjo’s words to Buhari, he and the CPC leader doubted the sincerity of the president and therefore resolved to treat the gesture with a pinch of salt.
But by February, when a “weird Federal High Court ruling had restored the tickets of Iyabo Obasanjo and other members of their faction in Ogun state,” Obasanjo backed out of his earlier commitment to support Buhari.

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