By Emmanuel Aziken & Ise-Oluwa Ige
Posted to the Web:
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 Vanguard
ABUJA — VICE President Atiku Abubakar alleged, yesterday, that President
Olusegun Obasanjo introduced the use of money to influence National Assembly
members and revealed that their working relationship showed its first crack just
24 hours on assumption of office in 1999.
He spoke on a day he, General Muhammadu Buhari and six other presidential
candidates in the last election formally filed their petitions with the
Presidential Election Petition Tribunal challenging the declaration of Alhaji
Umaru Yar’Adua as winner of the April 21 poll.
The VP speaking through his campaign organisation narrated how party cohesion
began crumbling within the PDP Senate caucus after President Obasanjo
overturned the decision of PDP Senators who had endorsed the late Senator Chuba
Okadigbo to head the first Senate.
He said: “On May 29, 1999, the day the new civilian administration was
sworn-in, the PDP called a meeting of its Senators-elect at Agura Hotel in
Abuja. At the meeting, which minutes were taken, the party said it wanted to
involve the Senators in the choice of their presiding officer and other
principal officers. When the choice of the Senate President was put to vote, the
overwhelming majority cast their votes for Dr Chuba Okadigbo. In fact, only four
Senators declined to support Okadigbo, saying three of them harboured similar
aspiration while the forth dissented.
“When the President got the result of the votes, he said ‘no,’ he was not
going to have Okadigbo as the President of the Senate. He then invited the Vice
President, Atiku Abubakar, and Gen. T.Y. Danjuma to join him for breakfast the
“The President told the two that Okadigbo smoked marijuana and was a
womaniser for which reasons he was not going to have him as the President of the
Senate. He, therefore, asked the Vice President to tell Okadigbo to step down
from the race, and in his place, he said, he wanted Evan Enwerem.
“The Vice President advised that apart from the fact that Enwerem was not
known to him, this man that the President wanted had just joined the PDP from
the All People’s Party (APP) and needed time to acclimatise.
“The Local Government Elections in Imo State returned the PDP with a big
margin. This overwhelming victory necessitated the key political figures in that
state, who had hitherto positioned themselves in APP rethinking their positions.
Chief Ifeanyi Araraume as APP chairman, along with Chiefs Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu,
Arthur Nzeribe and Enwerem moved over to the PDP three weeks to the elections.
Enwerem had a Senate seat concessioned to him.
“The Vice President argued that while he knew Okadigbo as a cigarette smoker,
the Senator did not smoke marijuana. Atiku jokingly told the President he (the
President) was a worst offender on the issue of womanising. The President
stormed out in anger. General Danjuma found himself talking to the Vice
President, asking such questions whether ‘this is the way you civilians treat
"In the presence of a former National Security Adviser, General Aliyu
Mohammed Gusau, Danjuma explained that in the military, whenever the
Commander-in-Chief took a position, everyone queued behind him. The Vice
President responded by saying that this was not a military government and that
if this was the way the President wanted to run the country, the VP was ready to
leave the government, or at best, go to his office and sit down to read
newspapers. It was clear that the government was already in crisis, 24 hours
after coming into office.
“That evening, May 30, the party Chairman, Chief Solomon Lar, called a
meeting of stakeholders including Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Dr Alex Ekwueme, and
leading founding members of the party at the Villa. He announced that ‘tomorrow
this government will start and we cannot begin like this’.
“The President charged at Ekwueme, asking him ‘is this how you worked with
Shagari?’ going on to state that this government will have only one
“Ekwueme replied by saying that before any decision was made by their
government, he was invited to a discussion by the President and that his views
were taken. Whenever a decision was reached thereby, everyone stood by the
“As a solution to the deadlock, the meeting resolved that the principal
actors, the President and the Vice President give up their respective choices of
Enwerem and Okadigbo, for a neutral candidate to emerge. At this stage, the
South-East caucus led by Dr Ekwueme, Dr Sylvester Ugoh and the former National
Treasurer retired to Ekwueme’s Suite at the Hilton to produce a new consensus
candidate. “They arrived at an early decision in the person of Senator Adolphus
Wabara and the former Vice President was mandated to deliver the name to the
President at the Villa.”
Continuing, the Vice-President disclosed that delegates coming out of the
meeting were shocked to see a businessman from the South-East, a frontline PDP
member from Katsina State who is now an estranged friend of the President
ferrying Ghana-Must-Go bags in naira and dollar to the Senators.
“Not one to be prevailed upon to give up on a given course of action, the
President, unknown to them, had bought some Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the
All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) (both defunct) Senators in addition to about
40 per cent of the PDP membership to overturn the decision of his own party
“Enwerem won the Senate Presidency. With that emerged what came to be known
as ‘PDP 1’ (made up of AD, APP and a few PDP Senators) and ‘PDP 2’ who were in
talking terms with their party. “From this point, there was no party loyalty
anymore. From that day, party discipline died a natural death. As Chairman,
Board of Trustees, Vice President Ekwueme did everything to reconcile the
President with the Senate dominated by their party but alas, this was to no
“This was the beginning of Obasanjo’s meddlesomeness in the affairs of the
National Assembly. The consequences of course were instability in the National
Assembly and a rapid turnover in its leadership. The President had been
misadvised, obviously to have his own man at the helm of affairs at the National
Assembly instead of allowing PDM stalwarts as Deputy and President of the
Senate. Obasanjo took the advice because it suited his own instinct to control
and dominate all institutions of government. In furtherance of this desire, he
was willing to use everything, including money, to get his way.”
Buhari, Atiku, 6 others challenge Yar’Adua’s victory
All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and Action Congress (AC) presidential
candidates, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar have challenged
the victory of the President-elect, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, at the Presidential
Election Petition Tribunal.
Apart from the duo, six other parties— ANPP, NAC, APLP, PMP, HOPE Democratic
Party and APGA— have also filed separate petitions challenging the outcome of
the April 21 presidential election in which Yar’Adua was declared winner.
In separate petitions filed by their respective counsel yesterday, both
Buhari and Atiku prayed the Tribunal to nullify the result of the election and
order for a fresh election.
In his ground of appeal, Buhari alleged that as at the time of the election,
Yar’Adua was not qualified to contest the election as he was indicted by a
commission of inquiry set up by the Abia State government.
The government of Abia, according to him, had accepted the indictment and
issued a white paper, which was not set aside by any court of competent
jurisdiction. He contended that Yar’ Adua was not competent to contest the
election based on section 137(1)(i) of the constitution and, therefore, the
election was null and void.
The election, he argued, was invalid as its
conduct had not complied with the provision of the Electoral Act, 2006.
He further alleged that the election was marred by electoral malpractice
which rendered its outcome invalid.
On his part, Atiku urged the cancellation
of the election based on his unlawful exclusion by INEC as the validly nominated
Presidential candidate of the AC.
Like Buhari, the Vice President complained
about the alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2006,
and corrupt practices in the conduct of the election and, therefore, seeks the
nullification of its outcome.
The two candidates prayed the Tribunal to disqualify INEC Chairman, Prof.
Maurice Iwu, from conducting another election that it might order.
defendants in the two petitions apart from Yar’Adua are the
Vice-President-elect, Dr Goodluck Jonathan; Professor Maurice Iwu, INEC
Chairman; PDP; President Olusegun Obasanjo; Inspector-General of Police, Mr
Sunday Ehindero; and all the 36 states Resident Electoral