Former Vice-president Atiku Abubakar has insisted that ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to pave the way for a lifetime presidency and not just a third term in office. Atiku said this in an interview with a quarterly magazine published by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Zero Tolerance.
The former vice-president said, initially, it was assumed that the plan was to modify the constitution so that Obasanjo could serve a third, four-year term as President. He, however, said the aspect of tenure limitation was carefully removed so that Obasanjo could be President for life.
When asked why he and Obasanjo were at loggerheads towards the end of their tenure, he 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 said due to his disagreement with Obasanjo, the ex-president decided to tag him as a corrupt person.
The former vice-president said the then Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, accused him of corruption but later came to him to apologise.He said, “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 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, In any case, he kept on apologising and I said, ‘okay, no problem. That closed the chapter.