By Henry Umoru & Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, attributed part of the reason he succeeded as President to the loyalty and steadfastness exhibited by the erstwhile National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali.
Speaking, yesterday, at Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, which was filled to capacity during the public presentation of “Many Colours of a Rainbow,” a biography of Senator Ahmadu Ali, former President Obasanjo described Ali as someone he had been with on different occasions, adding that the former PDP national chairman’s loyalty was not to him alone as an individual, but to the country.
Obasanjo was the chairman of the launch of the 423-page, nine chapter biography written by Professor Gideon S. Tseja, to mark Ahmadu Ali’s 82nd birthday celebration.
He told the audience of how his action in favour of Ali to get an office, caused an international embarrassment to Nigeria.
He said for the former PDP national chairman to get an office that was at that time occupied by the United States Embassy, he had to organise his men to block the place as early as 4 am, locking out the Americans when they resumed work that morning.
He said the office was finally vacated for Ahmadu Ali to have an office, adding that the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), General David Ejoor (retd) and others, immediately summoned, lampooned and thoroughly washed him down.
Obasanjo said: “There are a number of good things we have done together; I would say this as chairman of the party when I was president, most of what we were able to achieve, was because of Ahmadu Ali’s steadfastness and loyalty. Not loyalty to me only as an individual and as head of government, but loyalty also to Nigeria as a country.”
On his part, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), who served as the father of the day, described Ali as a short man devil, very versatile and hardworking Nigerian who succeeded in all its ramifications, even as he said their lives had been intertwined.
He said: “Ahmadu Ali that I know, we knew each other from those days in the early 50s at Berewa College and, of course, he was a year behind me and he was a very active sportsman.
“In fact, I was the captain of the boxing team as well as captain of athletics. I had to hand over the captaincy of the boxing team to Ahmadu Ali and I can assure you that he is a very good boxer, short man devil. But he was also a very brilliant student and he was very good.”
In his remarks, the former PDP National Chairman, Senator Ahmadu Ali said: “I have been asked to say a few words and really I can only say I thank you for the honour. The General (Gowon) has told you how we’ve fared in this country. We’ve tried our best in this country. We expect you, younger ones to try your best. Get up and do something, have a second address; politics is no job.”