Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has continued to publicly undermine his political foe and former vice, Atiku Abubakar, who is seeking to be president for the fourth consecutive time since 1999.
Obasanjo gave an interview to Premium Times on Saturday where he clearly distanced himself from the PDP presidential aspirant. “God will not forgive me,” he said, “if I supported Atiku.”
Why It Matters:
Atiku has been making efforts to ingratiate himself with the PDP, beginning with the party’s hierarchy – a group which has naturally viewed him with suspicion due to his history of defections and the perception that he is too wealthy and powerful to submit to their dictates. It appears that Atiku is making progress on this end as he is generally considered as the PDP candidate-in-waiting. His camp moved swiftly to get some endorsements before other aspirants like Gombe Gov. Hassan Dakwambo or expected aspirant Aminu Tambuwal even declared. But his camp had been concerned by the ‘Obasanjo Factor’ with strategists trying to paint a picture that all is well between both leaders.
What We Know:
1. According to an insider, Obasanjo told the PDP National Working Committee which paid him a private visit in July that he is committed to helping them achieve victory. But the former president gave a caveat, “if you give it to that man, I would not be involved.” The former President did not mention his (Atiku’s) name but the message was clearly communicated. Obasanjo’s private and public statements carry weight and would definitely influence party leaders, many of whom are considered his ‘boys’ and the faithfuls who know that they would require the former President in their quest for victory
2. Obasanjo has not shied away from publicly proclaiming his soft-spot and endorsement of Tambuwal, whose defection to the party has seen him become the leading challenger to Atiku for the party’s presidential ticket.
“I told you that I am pleased by the reports I got of you as the speaker, and again I am still getting good report of you in your state. You are one of the examples of the youth that have been doing well in politics,” Obasanjo said to Tambuwal at a lecture in Abeokuta in 2017.
The Sokoto State Governor is seen as one of Obasanjo’s political protégées and one who continues to consult with the former President on every step of the way.