Why Atiku, Ekwueme alliance collapsed in 2003 ―OBJ
•Says ‘I can't be blamed for non-completion of Ibadan-Ilorin expressway’
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, 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 cannot be blamed for the non-completion of Ibadan-Ilorin expressway project, which was awarded during his administration.
Obasanjo spoke at Trenchard Hall of the University of Ibadan (UI) while reacting to some issues raised in the biography of the former governor of Oyo State, Chief Christopher Adebayo Alao Akala, titled “Amazing Grace”, which was presented to the public.
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 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 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.