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“Obasanjo begged Atiku on bended knees” – El-Rufai reveals in new memoir

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“Obasanjo begged Atiku on bended knees” – El-Rufai reveals in new memoir

by Ibrahim Faruk

Nasir el-Rufai, the CPC chieftain and former member of the Olusegun Obasanjo economic team, is set to release his tell-all memoir entitled “The Accidental Public Servant”. The book will be formally launched on February 7, 2013 at 10:30am at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.

This appears to be a season of memoirs from former public servants, which is a good thing for the polity. Both Peter Odili, the former Rivers governor, as well as the media team of former vice president Atiku Abubakar recently released memoirs.

Malam Nasir el-Rufai was a close confidant of former president Obasanjo, while he served as minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the Obasanjo cabinet.

The book according to an excerpt released by an online news source, lives ups to its expectations, giving detailed accounts of what happened behind the scenes during the Obasanjo administration.

On the election of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who succeeded Obasanjo in 2007, El-rufai discloses that the former president despite handing over, planned to administer the country from his Ota Farm. Obasanjo described the 2007-2011 period as a transition because, he assumed (wrongly) that all his points men, including the “economic team”, would remain in office.

El-Rufai quotes the former president telling him, “Well, nothing will change, you know. I will be in Ota, but we will be running things. Everything will remain the same, you know. You will remain in the government, the economic team will remain. Nothing will change. Only I will move to Ota, and Yar’Adua will be here but we will be running things.”

El-Rufai also confirmed widely speculated reports that the former president begged his deputy on “bended knees” for his political survival when Obasanjo feared he could lose the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) re-nomination bid in 2003 if he did not make peace with Atiku.

He writes, “The stakes were high enough for Obasanjo to swallow his considerable pride and go to Atiku on bended knees. Obasanjo had no problem going down on his knees to beg for what he thought was impossible to obtain any other way. The political bricksmanship got so bad that Obasanjo had to visit Atiku’s residence unannounced to plead for Atiku’s support. Upon arriving at his deputy’s residence, he reportedly knelt before Atiku and begged the vice-president to remain onside, thus guaranteeing the support of the 17 PDP governors. In return, Obasanjo had to agree to retain Atiku as his running mate(he was rumoured at the time to be considering an alternative),” the book revealed.

In his book, El-Rufai also knocks the leadership recruitment processes that led to the choosing of the late Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as president and vice-president by Obasanjo, calling it “the final nail in the coffin of any meritocracy or track record of governance in Nigeria. President Obasanjo chose Umaru Yar’Adua whose ill-health, among other challenges, was known already constituted a serious impediment to the possibility of any inspired and energetic leadership. The view of many well-informed Nigerians is that Yar’Adua and his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, emerged for no other discernable reasons than being ‘weak’ governors sympathetic to the ‘Third Term’ project and therefore handpicked as payback.

“The subsequent electoral imposition of Goodluck Jonathan as president in 2011 via military occupation and rigging has been unhelpful in raising leadership quality. Jonathan went into a presidential contest without a campaign manifesto, boasting of no experience, merit and any track record of previous performance other than wearing no shoes to school and his ‘good luck’.”

From those excerpts, it appears Mallam El-Rufai doesn’t disappoint with his straight forward, no holds barred and hard hitting style of writing. But we’ll wait to see before passing final judgement.

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