Few months after former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, made fleeting overture at reconciling their five-year beef, remarks from Condoleezza Rice’s memoir has plunged both men in a fresh war of words.
The latest clash, sparked by Obasanjo’s Newspaper interview where he said Atiku failed to succeed him in 2007 because he was inexperienced and self destructive has got Atiku reacting angrily.
The former Vice President said he was unbelievably shocked by the distortion of truth Obasanjo, who is supposed to speak honestly like a statesman, rendered in the interview.
He said his problems with Obasanjo did not bother on competence but his opposition to Obasanjo’s third term ambition which he (Obasanjo) has continued to deny.
The former US Secretary of State, in her “No Higher Honour” memoir confirmed former President Obasanjo birthed the third term agenda.
“In 2006 when President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria sidled up to President Bush and suggested that he (Obasanjo) might change the constitution so that he could serve a third term, President Bush told him not to do it.” Condoleezza wrote on page 638 of her memoir.
In a statement from the former vice president’s Abuja office, Atiku said that rather than malign his personality, former president Obasanjo should concern himself with defraying the bad reputation he gained with his “unpopular third term agenda” which was confirmed in Condoleezza’s memoir.
Atiku claimed that Obasanjo had no succession plan but wanted to be “Nigeria’s Robert Mugabe.” He said Obasanjo supported late President Umaru Yar’Adua to succeed him, reluctantly, as a face-saving measure following the collapse of his third term ambition on the floor of the Senate on May 16th 2006.
Contrary to Obasanjo’s claims that he did not discuss the third term agenda with anyone, his former deputy claimed that he sent two senior cabinet ministers to him to deliberate a draft constitution – bearing no remark to the tenure elongation – that alerted his curiosity. He said his curiosity led him to confront the former president in a manner that triggered his misfortunes in that administration.
On the allegations of inexperience, incompetence and unreliability made against him by Obasanjo, former Vice President said Obasanjo lacked integrity to question any Nigerian’s reliability.
“With the recent revelations by former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice in her published memoirs in which she disclosed how Obasanjo lobbied former President Bush to support his third term bid, Atiku Abubakar advised his former boss to defend himself on this latest moral challenge to his reputation before he could question the reliability of others,” the statement said.
Atiku also dismissed as preposterous the allegation against him by Obasanjo that he is inexperienced. He challenged Obasanjo to disclose any responsibility or task that he assigned to him while in office, which he didn’t discharge competently.
“Rather than losing his head to underserved flattering newspaper attention, Obasanjo should apologize to Nigerians for dragging our politics into disrepute because of his disregard for fair play or the basic rules of democracy,” the former vice president said.