FRIDAY OLOKOR and ENIOLA AKINKUOTU
A former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, said he blocked ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar from succeeding former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Anenih stated this in his book, titled ‘My Life and Nigerian Politics,’ which was presented in Abuja on Saturday.
Anenih, who served as the Minister of Works and Housing between 1999 and 2002, said Abubakar became too ambitious during the build-up to the 2003 presidential election in which Obasanjo was seeking a second term.
“As a result of my preparations for Chief Obasanjo’s second tenure, I stepped on the toes of many of those who did not want him to seek a second term. These are the people I can now refer to as members of the ‘G3’. These were General Ibrahim Babangida, (ex-) Vice- President Atiku Abubakar and the (ex-) National Security Adviser, General Aliu Gwarzo.
“There was no other way I could have offended the vice-president other than that I prevented him from being PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2003 presidential election. He erroneously believed that he was the only politician at the Villa and that he was better qualified than the President. I was well ahead of him in all his plans to prevent Chief Obasanjo from running (for re-election).”
Anenih, however, noted that after blocking Abubakar, the former vice-president also ensured that he (Anenih) lost his position in Obasanjo’s cabinet.
The former PDP BoT Chairman also claimed that he was the one who made Atiku second-in-command in 1999.
He said after the PDP presidential primary of 1998, the then Chairman of the party, Solomon Lar, recommended three northerners to be Obasanjo’s running mate.
The three nominees were Prof. Jerry Ghana, Abubakar Rimi and Adamu Ciroma.
Lar was said to have told Obasanjo that Rimi was his preferred candidate but Obasanjo wasn’t convinced.
Anenih, according to the book, then advised Obasanjo to pick Atiku, who had just won the governorship election in Adamawa State and was waiting to be sworn in.
He added, “I asked Obasanjo whether he would want a vice-president that would give him absolute confidence and allow him to sleep with his two eyes closed or whether he would want a vice-president he did not trust.
“He answered that he would like to sleep with his two eyes closed. It was at this point that I asked him: ‘What about Atiku?’ Chief Obasanjo’s answer was that Atiku had just won his governorship election and the law might not allow him to come on board as his running mate.
“We both decided to get a lawyer to advise us and Barrister Alimi Rasaq of Kwara State was sent for. He advised us that there was nothing in the constitution that prevented Atiku from being his running mate; especially as Atiku had not been sworn in.”
Speaking at the book presentation, which had in attendance several PDP leaders, Anenih announced that he had quit politics.
However, former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was a special guest of honour, rejected Anenih’s retirement, urging him not to abandon the PDP.
Meanwhile, the ex-minister said he survived death after an eight-hour heart surgery.
He stated this during a thanksgiving service held at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral Church, Garki, Abuja.
He said, “There is nothing God cannot do if you believe in him sincerely. I had a problem with my heart. So I was subjected to eight hours of surgery and seven doctors were carefully selected to do that because of their experience.
“Before the operation, the seven doctors told the people that accompanied me (to the hospital) that I wouldn’t make it. I heard them.”
The event was attended by ex-Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar; ex-Vice-President Namadi Sambo; Aliko Dangote; Second Republic Vice-President, Alex Ekwueme; a former Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada; ex-Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; a former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; Prof. Jerry Gana and others. (Punchng.com)