Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, has recounted how former President Olusegun Obasanjo “hounded” top contenders for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket to “anoint” Umaru Yar’Adua as standard bearer in 2007.
Newspot recalls that Yar’Adua unexpectedly emerged as the presidential candidate of the PDP ahead of the 2007 election, beating topguns of the party who were fiercely angling at the time to succeed Obasanjo as Nigeria’s President.
The former Katsina governor eventually emerged as President from the polls but died in office and was succeeded by his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan. Meanwhile, it was Nnamani who led the 5th National Assembly to defeat the third term gambit purportedly powered by Obasanjo.
And in his newly-released book, ‘Standing Strong: Legislative Reforms, Third Term and Other Issues of the 5th Senate’, Nnamani wrote that “all serious contenders” vying for PDP presidential ticket in the 2007 elections were “hounded out of the way or convinced to withdraw”.
He said the former goverrnor of Rivers state, Peter Odili, was “the most prepared of the lot for the ticket”, but suddenly there was a “skeleton in his cupboard, about the EFCC and some documents”.
Nnamani, who led the red chamber from April 2005 to May 2007, also recounted how Obasanjo rejected former governor of Kaduna state, Ahmed Makarfi, because he “was too intelligent to be controlled”.
“But of those who ran for the [PDP presidential] ticket, Governors Ahmed Markarfi of Kaduna State and Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa were the more prominent.
“Governor Makarfi is a brilliant accountant, and North West State of Kaduna had the reputation of being a gentleman and was the candidate of many of his brother governors in the PDP for the presidential ticket.
“In an interview granted the Interview Magazine in 2017, Chief Ayo Fayose, who was the Governor of Ekiti state during the third term period. Revealed that Makarfi was the preferred candidate of a committee set up by the president to find a suitable flagbearer for the party.
“Fayose, who was chairman of that presidential committee, claimed that Obasanjo rejected the choice of Makarfi because he felt the governor was too intelligent to be controlled.
“In the end, the list of contenders tapered out to 12 candidates who ran for the party’s ticket. They included Governor Yar’Adua. Chief Rochas Okorocha, General Aliyu Gusau (Rtd), Professor Jerry Gana, General Buba Marwa (Rtd), Navy Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (Rtd), Late Admiral Mike Akhigbe (Rtd), Chief Albert Horsfall, Mrs Sarah Jubril, Chief Ralph Uwechue, Andreas Sawa and General Mamman Kontagora (Rtd).
“None of those generally regarded as front liners for the ticket was on the card. After the vote, Yar’Adua was declared the winner with 3,024 votes out of a total of 4,101 voles. In the end, the Presidency’s will was done, as all those who stood a chance had been either silenced or run out of the party.
“As I watched the proceedings of the PDP presidential primaries for the 2007 elections in Eagle Square that day, the evidence of an inverted and corrupted democracy was all too clear.
“The party members – the contestants and the delegates – making their way to the arena to cast their votes were just following the motions to give the impression of democracy in action.
“It was clear to anyone who had been following the events of recent weeks that the whole process at the Eagle Square that day was a charade because the outcome of the election had been predetermined.
“All serious contenders for that election had either been hounded out of the way or ‘convinced to withdraw. Governor Yar’Adua was the anointed of President Obasanjo,” he wrote.