Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku Abubakar has said that his former boss, former president Olusegun Obasanjo was seeking to be president for life, through his ‘third term agenda’ towards the end of his second tenure.
Atiku made this known in an interview with Zero Tolerance, a quarterly magazine published by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Speaking on the reason for the fallout between him and Obasanjo, Atiku said:
My offence was that I disagreed with him on the amendment of the constitution to remove tenure/term limits or what was popularly called the ‘third term agenda’.
“In fact, he sent the then Attorney-General and Prof. Jerry Gana to my office to bring the draft amendments to the constitution. After going through (them), I found out that tenure limits had been removed. In other words, he could be President for life.
“I then asked them that ‘if I send you to the President, can you deliver this message?’ They said yes. I said ‘go and tell him I will not support it and (I) will fight it’.
Atiku added that this disagreement made Obasanjo tag him as corrupt. He also said that the then Chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, who recently returned to the All Progressives Congress (APC) after he left them for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2014, came to apologise to him after he (Ribadu) accused him of corruption.
“When he came to ask me for forgiveness, I said if you want me to forgive you, Nuhu, go to the same television stations where you said I was corrupt and say you now (have) realised that I am not corrupt.
Then he said ‘sir, you have forgiven so many people who have offended you publicly without them going to TV stations to apologise to you’ and I said, ‘your case is different because first of all, I helped to found the EFCC’.
I was instrumental to your appointment, so, I believe I have contributed to your development and this is how you are paying me back. In any case, he kept on apologising and I said, ‘okay, no problem. That closed the chapter’,” Atiku said.
The former vice president also denied media reports that a report by the United States Senate accused him of laundering $40m in the U.S between 2000 and 2008.
“It was an allegation which was not proved. It was my legitimate money which I transferred to the U.S; there was nothing (wrong) about it. More so, I was not indicted in that report. They only said suspicious funds but I proved before the Senate committee that they were not suspicious,” Atiku said.
He also spoke about his dealings with a convicted Louisiana congressman, William Jefferson.
He explained that Jefferson had approached him for a communications project but he referred the American to the minister of communications.
“Apparently, I didn’t know he (Jefferson) had duped a lady and collected marked money from her in my name. Unknown to him, the FBI were on his trail. But, of course, there was no way he could give me money because what was $100,000 to me?
Eventually, my wife’s residence was searched and nothing was found but when his residence was searched, of course, the money was found there and he was convicted. I was not even called as a witness,” Atiku added.