Yar’adua was supposed to act as Babangida’s campaign DG – Afegbua

General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida

A former Commissioner of Information in Edo State, Kassim Afegbua, says there was an arrangement that General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida would succeed former President Olusugun Obasanjo in 2007 while late President Umar Musa Yar’adua would act as the Director General of his campaign team.

Afegbua said the plan changed after Babangida blocked Obasanjo’s third term bid in a meeting held at Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Afegbua, in a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday, narrated how Obasanjo held a meeting with some former heads of state, including Babangida, and they rejected his bid.

He said the facts of history concerning the “failed” third term bid of former President Olusegun Obasanjo were very lucid.

In an interview, Obasanjo recently said he never at any time wanted a third term in office, stressing that if he had wanted third term, he could have got it.Afegbua noted that Obasanjo sought a third term, saying the former President failed woefully because he didn’t have the “buy-in of those who worked for his election in 1999, the governors, the media, and other critical stakeholders.”

The statement reads, “After I survived an assassination attempt in the early hours of 23 August 2006 by agents of government, I had to seek refuge somewhere around Central Business District in Abuja. Five days before the attack, I was cautioned by top government functionaries and a former President to watch my back, that the government of the day was restless over several articles and publications I wrote, exposing their secret activities.

“Five days later, the assailants struck; but God was on my side. I heard the assailants shouting within my compound; saying ‘come out Mr. Writer’. I quickly called the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Lawrence Alobi, who immediately detailed his DPO in my area to swing into action.

“On hearing that I was calling the police, the assailants shouted at the other end, and released a few bullets at my entrance door, saying that no policeman would dare approach my house at this time. Then I heard a staccato of gunshots. After 40 minutes of drama, I was still alive, had secured my family, and had inflicted some bodily harm on one of them.

”It was after that incident that I got emboldened and got more interested in the intrigues of the third term bid.

“A meeting on the third term bid was held on the 13th of September, 2006, where Chief Emmanuel Iwuayanwu was detailed to attend the World Igbo Congress in New York to sell the idea to the body. Chief Anenih and five other persons attended that meeting in the Villa and certain decisions were reached on how to engage the National Assembly, traditional rulers, opinion moulders, and government functionaries to buy into the agenda.

“Chief Iwuayanwu attended the World Igbo Congress, but he couldn’t mention the idea at the Congress because of the mood he met. This infuriated the members of the group. Monies were alleged to have been released to members of the National Assembly to get their buy-in.

“Also, Chief Obasanjo then invited his associates who masterminded his election in 1999 for a meeting in the Villa. Former President Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau, former President Abdulsalami Abubakar, and Atiku Abubakar, then Vice President, were at the meeting.

“The media called them members of the G4. Before the meeting started, President Obasanjo had kept them waiting for about 20 minutes; an act that infuriated the G4. When he finally emerged, he reportedly presented the request of a third term to them and pleaded that he would need at least 6 months to complete a couple of things that were yet undone.

“It was former President Babangida who spoke for the group. He reportedly told the President that it was true they supported his emergence as president in 1999, but that having become President, he, Obasanjo had made new friends and they expected his new friends to work with him, this time.

“He added that President Obasanjo had not been true to all the roadmap and commitments which they had earlier agreed on; hence, they would not be supporting his so-called third term or extension of term.

“After IBB spoke, President Obasanjo asked if there were other speakers, and the group in unison said that what IBB delivered was the verdict of the collective. That, for Obasanjo, was the breaking point.”

Afegbua said Babangida was to contest the 2007 presidential election, but Obasanjo had become hostile and after a follow-up meeting, IBB was prompted to write a formal letter to Obasanjo, declining to contest.

He stated, “Before daybreak, Obasanjo had sought Umaru Yar’adua to become his successor. Umaru Yar’adua as Governor of Katsina state, unknown to President Obasanjo, was to have become the Director-General of IBB campaigns. Behaving like a wounded lion as a result of the objection of the G4, President Obasanjo then started acting like a bull in a China shop. He scuttled Dr. Odili’s project, and felt that a terminally ill Umaru Yar’adua would suit his plot. Needless to say that Umaru Yar’adua survived three years as President to the consternation of Chief Obasanjo.

“It is needless to state the many intrigues that took place in the National Assembly, and the roles that were played by several individuals, to ensure that the project got terminated. Further details would be contained in my coming book. Senator Ken Nnamani, the then Senate President and Late Senator Ibrahim Mantu, then Deputy Senate President all had their remarkable roles,” Afegbua disclosed.

“The third term was a plot by Chief Obasanjo but there was counter-plot. To declare that President never sought a third term would amount to the biggest lie of the century. Chief Obasanjo should tell the true story of his trajectory, and for the records, justify the rationale behind taking certain decisions; instead of hiding behind a finger to tell us bogus stories that do not add up.”

-Daily Trust

KN