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Obasanjo: Atiku wanted Ekwueme as president to resign after three years

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 …I can’t be blamed for non-completion of Ibadan-Ilorin expressway

By Fola Raheem

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has attributed the defeat of erstwhile Vice-President Alex Ekwueme during the 2003 presidential primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the collapse of the alliance between him (Ekwueme) and former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

He also contended that he could not be blamed for the non-completion of Ibadan-Ilorin expressway project, which was awarded during his administration.

Obasanjo spoke on Thursday at Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan (UI) while reacting to some issues raised in the biography of a former governor of Oyo State, Chief Christopher Adebayo Alao Akala, titled “Amazing Grace”, which was presented to the public.

He said, “Adebayo has exhibited extra courage to invite eyewitnesses and ‘ear witnesses’ 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 itemised 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 the 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 continued “I wonder how you come on page 390 of your book to blame or criticise me for dividing the Ibadan-Ilorin Road to three sections for reconstruction during my second tem 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.”

In his remark, Akala recalled that his maternal grandmother popularly called “Iya Alaro” singlehandedly reconstructed his fractured life, saying “it was a miracle how grace took me to the top.”

Commenting on the public presentation of the book, Professor Oluyemi Fayomi from the Department of International Relations and Political Science, Leads City University, Ibadan, described Akala as one who is committed to human capital development, tasking Nigerian politicians to emulate his virtues.

Eminent personalities at the event included 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.

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Why northern governors opposed Jonathan’s second term bid – Babangida Aliyu

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Former governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has said northern governors rose against former President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid in 2015 because of the perceived threat of his victory to the North.

Aliyu said in Minna on Friday that the northern governors felt at the time that their part of the country stood in a disadvantaged position and would be shortchanged should Jonathan win a re-election.

He claimed that Jonathan had earlier reached an agreement with the north to complete what was left of the tenure of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and then run for only one term.

He said the ex-president’s insistence on going for another term in 2015 was against the agreement he had with the northern governors.

“Following the sudden passage of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010, the leadership of the then governing Peoples Democratic Party along with the state governors under the flagship of the party had series of meetings on the presidency and the future of our great party,” he said.

The ex-governor also said, “All the governors in the North under the PDP supported the then Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to complete the remaining years of Yar’Adua’s tenure and to contest the next presidential election as a sole candidate of our great party.

“However, midway, President Goodluck Jonathan insisted to run for the office in 2015 against the grain of our earlier agreement.

“Since this was against the grain of our earlier agreement in the party, and which we the governors in the north felt the North would have been shortchanged if Jonathan had succeeded, we rose stoutly to insist on the agreement we all had.

“On that premise, we opposed Jonathan. But all along, Goodluck Jonathan had enjoyed every support from the governors in the north and the entire region.”

The former governor said it was wrong for anyone to say that he opposed Goodluck Jonathan.

He added that as the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum then, it was his responsibility to tell the people about the stand of the governors.

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Makinde’s candidate, Arapaja, emerges PDP South-West chairman

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Former Oyo State Deputy Governor, Taofeek Arapaja, has been declared the South-West chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He was pronounced winner of the hotly contested poll by chairman of the region’s congress and Benue Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu.

Arapaja, backed by Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, polled 343 votes to defeat Dr Eddy Olafeso, who scored 330.

Olafeso is of the camp of former Ekiti Governor Ago Fayose.

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743 PDP delegates to vote in today’s South-West congress

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National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has approved 743 delegates to elect the party’s South-West zonal leaders at region’s conference holding in Oshogbo, Osun State today (Monday).

Already, the NWC has also released the list of members of the Election Committee and the Election Appeal Committee.

A statement containing the delegates’ list signed by the National Organising Secretary of the party, Col Austin Akobundu (retd), showed that Oyo State has a total of 171 delegates, while Ogun State has 114; Osun State, 130; Ekiti State, 115; and Lagos State, 101.

Akobundu named the Benue State governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, as chairman of the election committee, while Senator Sandy Onoh, Ogun Otemabore and Ireruoke Edward will serve as members. Senator Samuel Anyanwu will serve as secretary.

The party also appointed an election appeal committee headed by Chief Okey Ezenwa who will serve as chairman, Mr. Roland Najomoh, secretary, while Clement Okaredir will serve as a member.

Due to the supremacy battle between Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, and a former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, the venue for the election was changed from Ibadan to Osogbo to ensure fairness and avoid giving any advantage to either of the two leaders of the party in the region.

While Makinde is said to be sponsoring Mr Taofeek Arapaja, a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Fayose is said to be backing Mr Eddy Olafeso, a former governorship aspirant in Ondo State and the immediate past chairman of the party in the zone.

The feud between Makinde and Fayose was responsible for the delay in the conduct of the party’s congress in the South-West zone.

The NWC had intervened severally to ensure a consensus candidate for the chairmanship position to no avail.

Already, Arapaja and Olafeso have been cleared to contest the party’s top post in the region.

Also cleared are Mr Rahman Olokaniron and Mr Jenvo Bunni for the position of zonal secretary.

For the office of zonal treasurer, those cleared are Mr Ogunje Samson and Mr Ojo Michael, while the candidates for the zonal organising secretary are Mr Amuwa Adegbenro and Mr Faisu Adewele.

Those contesting for zonal publicity secretary are Mr Olusanya Adefarari and Mr. Fadaka Ayodele, while Mr Adewoyin Babatunde and Mr Philip Okubode were cleared to contest for the position of zonal financial secretary.

Babatunde Samuel and Muniru Kukouye were cleared to contest for the office of zonal legal adviser, while those cleared for the zonal auditor are Dominic Adegbola, Balogun Ayuba and Adeolu Adewunmi.

For the office of zonal woman leader, Ms Modinat Adedibu and Ms Abimbola Balogun were cleared.

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