Obasanjo explained that Atiku had a deal to be Alex Ekwueme’s running mate in the 2003 presidential race and then later take over from Ekwueme one year before their first term ends so he can complete the term and run again in 2007.
However, Chief Obasanjo who spoke on Thursday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital said the alliance between the two of them collapsed even as Ekwueme failed to win the 2003 presidential primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said Atiku pulled out of the presidential race when the alliance he had with Ekwueme hit the rocks.
Obasanjo gave the explanation while making comments on some issues raised in the book presentation of a biography of the former governor of Oyo State, Chief Christopher Adebayo Alao Akala, titled “Amazing Grace.”
The book was presented to the public at Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan (UI) at the event also attended by other eminent personalities including the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, former military governor of Oyo State, Brigadier General Oladayo Popoola (rtd), Dr Saka Balogun, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), the Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State during 2019 elections, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, among others.
Former President Obasanjo noted that his presence at the book presentation affords him the opportunity to affirm or correct some of the things relating to him in the book.
According to him, “Adebayo has exhibited extra courage to invite eyewitnesses and ‘earwitnesses’ of some of the events chronicled in the biography for confirmation or otherwise. It is both courageous and dangerous to do so.
“By inviting me to be here at the launch of this great intellectual work of yours, you are asking me to confirm all events itemized in the book and in which I am connected as correct which you may or may not know are not.
“Atiku did not back down as you claimed until Alex Ekwueme was defeated at the primary of PDP in 2003 as Atiku’s agreement with Ekwueme was to be Ekwueme’s running mate and Ekwueme, as president, spending three years and resigning for Atiku to complete the fourth year and then for Atiku to contest election in his own right in 2007.
“It was after the result of the primary that Atiku backed down, if you put it that way, it was when there was no other choice.”
Obasanjo also added that he can’t be blamed for the non-completion of the Ibadan-Ilorin road project which was awarded during his administration as a civilian head of state.
Obasanjo was quoted to have said on the Ibadan-Ilorin expressway that; “I wonder how you come on page 390 of your book to blame or criticize me for dividing the Ibadan-Ilorin Road to three sections for reconstruction during my second term so that it could be expeditiously completed. You had a full term plus one year from Governor Ladoja’s tenure as governor and even up till today, the roads are not completed and you believe honestly that in your biography.
“I should be blamed at least 13 years after I have left office. As an Ogbomoso man, I can understand how important that road is to you.
“But when I took the steps which I took for the road to be expeditiously handled, it was not for your interest as an Ogbomoso man but for the importance of the road for the economic life of Nigeria and it is tragic that the artery road remains in the sorry state it is today.”
Akala in his remarks during the event, praised the role his maternal grandmother whom he fondly referred to as “Iya Alaro” played in making him a better person, noting “it was a miracle how grace took me to the top.”