Why I didn’t contest against Obasanjo in 2003 – Atiku

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar

Former vice president continues his consultation on APC invitation

A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday in Ibadan, Oyo State explained why he did not run against his boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the 2003 presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Mr. Abubakar was Mr. Obasanjo’s deputy between 1999 and 2007.

In the build up towards the 2003 presidential election, some PDP governors, led by former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, reportedly lobbied Mr. Abubakar discreetly to contest against his boss in the 2003 presidential primaries of the party.

The action allegedly pitted the former vice president against Mr. Obasanjo, although both men worked together to win the 2003 presidential election. They fell out in the build up to the 2007 election when Mr. Abubakar opposed the former president’s plot to extend his rule through the unsuccessful alteration of the 1999 Constitution.

The stand-off between the president and his deputy remained unresolved which caused Mr. Abubakar to decamp to the defunct Action Congress, AC, where he ran for the presidency in 2011.

Speaking for the first time on what transpired, the former vice president said he refused to accept the invitation to contest the election on moral grounds.

Mr. Abubakar, who was responding to a remark by one of the participants in his South-West consultative meeting in Ibadan, said despite the belief by some that his best chance to have emerged as the president of Nigeria was in 2003 when some members of the PDP offered him the opportunity to contest against his former boss, he found it difficult to accept the offer.

He said doing so would have been against the position the PDP had earlier taken at a caucus meeting to retain the presidency in the South.

He noted that his ambition and indeed that of any politician could not be realised in negation and commitment to party decisions.

“Yes, I may nurse legitimate ambition, but I am not the kind of person who will want to climb the political ladder because an opportunity cheaply presents itself,” Mr. Abubakar said.

“You don’t have to stand in the way of commitment to party decisions because you stand the opportunity to benefit from an infraction.”

Meanwhile, at a reception organized by the Oyo State Government, Mr. Abubakar recounted how he spent his days in Ibadan as a civil servant.

“My most memorable days in my civil service career were in Ibadan. So, I say this is a kind of a home-coming,” he said.

“Anytime I come to Ibadan – either for politics or personal reasons – I come back with a lot of memories. But much more than the memories, I am more fascinated by the new things and developments that I see in Ibadan.

“I want to say that since the Ajimobi administration took off, there have been positive changes in the city of Ibadan in terms of infrastructure development.”

He said his visit to Ibadan was in continuation of his political consultations with associates and stakeholders in response to the invitation extended to him by the All Progressives Congress, APC, in December last year.

Responding, the governor, Abiola Ajimobi, extolled the former vice president as a “broad-based, principled and consummate politician.”

He said not many politicians in Nigeria could match Mr. Abubakar’s democratic credentials.

The governor also noted the humble nature of the former Vice President.

“He has a personal touch to his relationship and sometimes you wonder if he has ever been the Vice President of this country,” Mr. Ajimobi said.

“As you go round consulting in Oyo state, you have a friend and someone who can accommodate you and what you stand for in Oyo State. I pray that in the next few weeks your consultation will result in consummation and then we can conclude the marriage.”


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