By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Chris Ochayi
ABUJA—Former Minister of the Federal capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was mortally afraid that late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua would arrest him in spite of the fact that he principally helped Yar’Adua to the presidency.
In his book, “The Accidental Public Servant,” el-Rufai said that Yar’Adua’s perceived willingness to arrest Obasanjo ran counter to Obasanjo’s motive for endorsing the Umaru Yar’Adua/ Goodluck Jonathan presidency in 2007, which he contended was with the hope that he would be succeeded by the two men whom he considered weak and would do his biddings.
The Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket
“There are those who say Obasanjo’s revenge for his third term defeat was intentionally picking two incompetent people to be president and vice-president, but I do not full agree with that. I think Obasanjo picked them for a different reason. He thought they were weak people he could control and through whom he would continue to exercise power. I think that he thought Yar’Adua would be an acceptable president, but would be weak and subservient to him in many policy areas and would be consulting him regularly so that Obasanjo might be a Lee Kuan Yew sort of figure exercising power from behind the scenes.”
According to el-Rufai, it was not long in the administration of Yar’Adua when it became very clear to the Otta chicken farmer that Yar’Adua would be his own man when the late president revolted against him and reversed virtually everything he did.
The former minister added that all through the period late Yar’Adua was in power, Chief Obasanjo lived in fear of arrest as Yar’Adua was investigating him and would have promptly arrested him.
El-Rufai said: “If I am just naïve and the ticket that ended up succeeding Obasanjo was meant to be a third term revenge, it did not exactly work out. Yar’Adua revolted against him, reversed virtually everything he did and even began investigating him. Obasanjo recently admitted to a close friend of ours that throughout the years Yar’Adua was in power, he was constantly in fear of being arrested because it was clear to him that at some point, Yar’Adua was after him.
How Yar’Adua wanted to nail me
Mallam el-Rufai alleged that late Yar’Adua wanted to nail him at all costs and that the Public Hearing on land administration in the FCT under him which was conducted by the Senate was to find something to latch unto for that purpose.
According to him, even though the sale of houses yielded N96 billion, N64 billion was in the account because some of the purchases were through mortgage and the full values were yet to be paid.
Why I ejected late Justice Sambo
The former Minister also justified the ejection of former Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal, late Justice Bashir Sambo from his official residence in 2006, saying at that time the jurist was an illegal tenant in the house.
El-Rufai, however, dismissed suggestion that the death of Justice Sambo few months later was caused by his forceful ejection from the residence.
According to him, “Perhaps the most publicised controversy arising from the sale of houses programme was the ejection of Justice Bashir Sambo in August 2006 from his official residence located at 1, Aso Drive, Maitama District. At the time, the carefully choreographed media war led by the Daily Trust newspaper was going on, I chose to maintain silence, and just directed the Secretariat to put out full-page adverts explaining what it had done and why. I thought that was the end of it.
“Sadly, less than a year later, Justice Sambo who was former chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal, died on April 29, 2007 in a Cairo Hospital. He was 76 years old and had been ill for some time.
“For that reason, I decided never to join issues with those who thought that the ejection of the deceased jurist was inappropriate and went as far as suggesting that it was the cause of his “premature” death.
“I will simply tell my side of the story on the sale of the house in question, subsequent cancellation, and the actions that followed naturally with reference only to letters written by Justice Sambo, himself and the other officials in the government.
These exchanges of correspondence culminated in my directive to the sales secretariat on July 17, 2006 to eject him immediately from the house in question because he had by then become an illegal tenant.”