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Kalu @ 48 My life, my struggles

Posted by By Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe on 2008/04/30 | Views: 729 |

Kalu @ 48 My life, my struggles


If you are looking for a political maverick, a gadfly, a controversialist, a troublemaker and shooter, a trader-turned corporate mogul, an astute political and business strategist, a commoner-turned internationally connected personage, a friend-turned arch-critic of ex-President Obasanjo, a dreamer and a visionary loved and hated by millions in equal measure, provoking extremity of passion from friends and foes, an unstoppable one-man-riot squad and more, you can find all these rolled into an amiable 48-year-old Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.

…Explosive details on Third Term, his mum, dad

If you are looking for a political maverick, a gadfly, a controversialist, a troublemaker and shooter, a trader-turned corporate mogul, an astute political and business strategist, a commoner-turned internationally connected personage, a friend-turned arch-critic of ex-President Obasanjo, a dreamer and a visionary loved and hated by millions in equal measure, provoking extremity of passion from friends and foes, an unstoppable one-man-riot squad and more, you can find all these rolled into an amiable 48-year-old Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.
To mark his 48 birthday, Kalu fielded questions from two journalists who had known him closely for over two decades and were at times participant observers in his political ups and downs.

Despite our unwritten covenant to keep our professional distance from him for obvious reasons, Kalu’s epochal involvement at many of the political events, battles and controversies of the past decade proved too tempting an opportunity to ignore for a newsman.

His 48 birthday merely became a convenient foil to drill Kalu on the insider details of the cloak-and-dagger battle for and against third term, from conception to execution and eventual defeat.

His apparent kamikaze efforts that cost him so much that can probably be described as unquantifiable apart, Kalu brought a fresh and revealing insights into the roles of many leaders in the third term imbroglio—Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Gusau, Theophilus Danjuma, Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu, Abdulkadir Kure, Uche Chukwumereije, Ben Obi, etc.

On the personal side, Kalu threw rare insight on his sober relationship with his father in contrast to his rather emotive link with his powerful mum, stating pointedly for the first time, “I believe he (the father) did not treat my mother fairly.”

In all, it is a quintessential Kalu, the survivalist from a polygamous home who has learnt to swim even in the shark-infested political and corporate waters. Below is excerpts from our two-hour encounter:

We understand you are close to Mike Adenuga and Aliko Dangote, so how did you get to know them?
We have been friends for so many years. I became friends with Aliko Dangote when I was in the University of Maiduguri in the early 80s and with Mike Adenuga when I started living on Adeleke Adedoyin Street (Victoria Island, Lagos) from 1985. Mike used to live around here, (then 6A Adeleke Adedoyin) and this is where all of us came to be friends.

Then, Dangote and Mike were not close but I was close to both of them. So, I was the bridge between the two of them. What brought all of us together was commodity trading. We were all dealing in sugar, rice, tomato puree and all types of consumer commodities.

But we thought you started off trading in palm oil?
Oh yes, but I eventually went into trading in sugar, rice and other things.

Then Dangote used to dominate that territory?
That is correct. He was the leader but you cannot dominate without supporters. Basically, we fine-tuned a strategy where we were selling our commodities against wholesale traders who wanted to push us out of the market.

Then, it was said that you people became a king of powerful mafia in the commodity business that drove competition out with strong-arm tactics and that anybody outside the circle could not import anything without his ship sinking somewhere. How true was that?
That’s not quite true. There was no mafia in that sense. It was just a matter of competition with price. We used price in sending away new comers into the business.

How did you do that?
Basically in terms of the volume of what we brought in. Dangote would go and bring 25,000 metric tons ship of sugar. Somebody else (Kalu?) would bring in 12,000 metric tons. The price and freight of those commodities cannot be the same. Our overheads were reduced by the big volume. Many people didn’t understand it that way. People would go and bring sugar in containers to come and compete with those of us who were bringing it in vessels. It could never be the same. Then we were borrowing in offshore banks where interest rate was about 3 or 4%. No Nigerian bank would have given us the credit facility we had. Others were borrowing in Nigerian banks where the exchange rate was high.

How did you gain access to those foreign banks?
It was because of our contacts. Contact is everything in international business. Some of those we were buying these goods from can direct us to get guarantees from the mega banks outside the country but today, the Nigerian banking industry, because of what Soludo has done, has a lot of money. Today, our banks can finance anything and you no longer need to go far to look for funds.

You used to say in those days that you had a lot of credit support from the Chemical Bank of America…
That was true. Chemical Bank of America was very helpful to our growth in Slok and they were very good to us. Their credit support and referrals were critical in many international transactions. The bank did so much to put on put us on track for growth. Today they are called JP Morgan. I had also had dealings with Hanover Bank and Chase Manhattan.

Three of you were born in April
It must be a coincidence.

What do April people, the bulls, have in common?
Bulls are very ambitious people, I can tell you that and anything anybody who is Taurus touches turns to gold. Whatever they set their minds to do always become successful. Aliko made his money in commodities and he has not left commodities. His various manufacturing companies are still producing many of those things he was shipping into the country as a commodity trader. Adenuga started out with commodities and then went into oil and banking before coming into communications. Today, Adenuga has made his money in communications and he’s not going to leave communications. Globacom is going to become one of the largest telecoms company in the next two years. Aliko’s cement factory will become one of the largest in the world. So you see, those born under the Taurus zodiac sign always have their eyes on the top.

If you had not ventured into politics where do you think you’d be now? It looks like those you started with have all left you behind?
Well, they have not left me totally. I’m still very strong. What happened is that when we were entering government, I was the only governor who came into power with two banks in terms of majority shareholding. I lost the two banks because of Obasanjo.

I was also the only governor with oil bloc and I lost that too because of Obasanjo. I was the only governor who came in with crude oil contracts. I had been lifting crude oil for years and I lost it all to Obasanjo. I was the only governor who came into office with a shipping company that supply boats at charter rates to PPMC. Obasanjo cancelled all that. The only contracts he could not cancel were the ones that involved the multi nationals like Exxon Mobil. So, during that period, such was Obasanjo’s wickedness towards me that if you saw peppermint and told Obasanjo it was Orji Kalu who owned it, he would ban it the following day.

The ban on imported fruit juice was all because of me. He was told that we are a major importer of fruit juices! But we give glory to God because I’m not worse off. Our shipping company is the largest indigenous company in Nigeria and we are planning as from next year to commission the building of the largest Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) in the U.S which no Nigerian company has till date. Nigerian companies in the vessel business will be seeing something different. With that kind of vessel, the cabotage law will favour Nigeria. Now the cabotage law is for the foreign companies.

Did Adenuga also suffer in the hands of Obasanjo?
Yes, we suffered the same fate because Obasanjo believed that both Adenuga and I were very close to Babangida. What Adenuga suffered he cannot tell it all because he doesn’t like the press. If you want Adenuga to leave any event, just tell him there are press people around, he would run. He is shy and withdrawn.

How did your relationship with Obasanjo start, considering that you once confessed that you were one of the people who encouraged him into politics, yet he cancelled about five of your businesses?
To be honest with you, my relationship with Obasanjo was very healthy before he came to power. The people who first dabbled into my relationship with Obasanjo and made a cottage industry of fuelling anti-Kalu information are the people I made to work with Obasanjo.

To start with, how did you know Obasanjo?
The first time I met Obasanjo at close range was at the home of the late Sam Mbakwe when Obasanjo visited him at his village. They were starting Unity Club to form a new political party before he went to jail. So, he came to Obowu, Chief Mbakwe’s village, and Mbakwe invited me. I was one of those who entertained Obasanjo and Chief Mbakwe told him a lot about me. Then, we had another meeting at Premier Hotel, Ibadan. I provided the logistic in the Ibadan meeting. I went there with Chief Mbakwe and Obasanjo also came there with a team. He later went to jail.

In fact, if Obasanjo needs to be grateful to any individual or group of people in Nigeria, one, he should be grateful to Babangida. Two, he should be grateful to Abdusalam Abubakar, three, Atiku Abubakar, four, General T. Y. Danjuma and lastly, General Mohammed Gusau. He needs to be very grateful to these people because they were the ones who made him the president.

How did you come into the picture?
Babangida brought me into the picture. When Obasanjo was released from prison, Babangida felt that something wrong was done to the South-West and that they must be compensated. It was Babangida who dragged everybody into the scene. He was at the back cooking the food for everybody to eat and the food was looking sweet. I cannot blame Babangida and Abdusalam totally because when they were cooking this food, it looked like a nice meal but Obasanjo has very strong character defects that showed up and destroyed people around him. I am not sure that Obasanjo has a milk of human kindness in him. He has no human heart. At times, he acts like there is no blood flowing in his heart.

Did Adenuga and Dangote also help Obasanjo?
These people are not politician. They don’t have any interest in politics. And that is the truth. They are not like me. Even when I wanted to go into politics, I remember Aliko Dangote telling me not to go. He said we had better stay where we were. But I said no, I will try because it is a call for service and that we should be able to give service to our people instead of staying behind the door. Somebody like Dangote has dealt with every government in this country. And the same thing goes for Adenuga. So, you can see that they have no interest in politics at all. I don’t know what pushed me into having so much interest in politics.

Still on your relationship with Obasanjo, it started so long ago……
There is no doubt that I used to be very close to General Obasanjo. He used to come here. He used to stay with me and we would discuss in this house at 191, Adeleke Adedoyin. He used to come here with his aides. Atiku also encouraged him. Why the relationship went sour is that we basically disagreed in terms of how politics should be played.

Again, I guess Ojo Maduekwe, Onyema Ugochukwu and a few others who constitute themselves into Abuja politicians played a big role too in fuelling our quarrel. They felt and told him I insulted him. The irony is that without me there is no way Ojo could have been a minister in Obasanjo’s government because I nominated him. But he has Atiku to thank for that. Really, it was Atiku Abubakar who helped Ojo to become minister. Ojo was not my first choice as Abia’s nominee.

I proposed Dr. Sam Eke. It was Atiku who asked me to remove Dr. Sam Eke’s name and put Ojo’s name. He told me that there was a disagreement between Dr. Eke and the later Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. He said he would tell me more about it later. So, I did exactly what Atiku told me. That is how Ojo became minister. And Ojo knows that I was the one who nominated him to be a minister. Atiku is alive, you people can ask him. Even when I was a governor and he was minister, Atiku visited Abia State and asked Ojo if he remember how he became minister.

Atiku said, “Stop fighting your younger brother.” And my first quarrel with Obasanjo was about Ojo because when Ojo was made minister of culture and we were not satisfied. I went to Obasanjo to complain that that was not what we discussed, that what we discussed was that you would give Abia minister of finance or transport.

That was when Obasanjo told me that we should thank God as Igbo that we are even doing this well and that it would take anybody who fought civil war like the one we (Igbo) fought 100 to 250 years to recover. He said we should be grateful to God that we even had a minister of culture because we were not supposed to have anything. He saw that I was angry. If Madam Stella (May her soul rest in peace) were alive, she would testify to this. I stood up to leave and greeted him goodnight sir.

Then, he called me back and said he would do what I told him to do and would post Ojo to transport. I later told Ojo that in two weeks time he would go to ministry of transport. Ojo knows this story. He should say it if he is an honest man that the nominee of Abia State was Dr. Samuel Eke. It was Atiku that said I should remove Eke’s name. Now, Eke is Atiku’s close friend. Eke also knows this story. I repeated this story before Atiku and Eke. Atiku apologized to Eke and the world moved on.

How did Onyema Ugochukwu come into all this because he seems so bitter about you?
I don’t have personal quarrel with Onyema. When we were doing Obasanjo’s campaign, Onyema was very close to Obasanjo. He was in charge of Obasanjo’s media before other people started coming in. Up till now, I have no bitterness against Onyema. I have never seen him as an enemy. I usually go to his house to eat. I have no problem with him. When he was in the Niger Delta Development Commission, we had an excellent relationship. The problem was that when it suited them, they went behind me to backbite and say all kinds of nonsense about me. In their heart of hearts, they know most of the things they say are lies. They felt threatened by my popularity. I never felt that way about Onyema. I’m telling you the truth. I just understood they were the ones who poisoned Obasanjo’s mind towards me and every time Obasanjo would use them to cause trouble in Abia.

Everything went bad six months after I became governor. When Obasanjo said Igbo needs 250 years to recover from the war, I told him to his face that “I thought you are a statesman. I never knew you were a parochial leader.” It pained him so much and he was very upset with me that night. This was in early 2000. Immediately he left Abia after an official visit.

Secondly, I went to Igbo Conference on February 19, 2001, where I demanded that we set an agenda that Igbo aim for the Presidency. Obasanjo felt threatened again that I set that kind of agenda. He sent for me. I told him that the agenda I set for our people did not mean I wanted to become the president in 2003 but that it was a general agenda for our people and that something must actually bring our people together.

You mean he actually sent for you after the conference?
Oh, sure. He sent for me. You know the man is a very petty man. I went to Abuja and he sat me down and said I went to the Presidential Hotel to abuse him. I said no but that I was setting an agenda for our people and it is left for them to carry on with the agenda.

We thought the relationship broke down over road construction and so on?
No, those were the things that made it open. The relationship broke down, one, because of his mentality, when he was doing things that I know did not tally with what I see as democratic principles. Secondly, the relationship broke down when he asked me to stop going to Atiku. This was in 2000 and I told Atiku. Atiku never believed. I told Atiku to be careful with Obasanjo. I told him that this is what Obasanjo told me. Atiku is alive. I told him that I could take him back to Obasanjo and would repeat everything Obasanjo said because I wanted harmony in the democratic process. I thought that if the president was feeling that bad about his deputy, there was a problem and we had to solve the problem. On one occasion, I was in Atiku’s bedroom upstairs and he wanted to fight me because I told him what Obasanjo said. Madam Titi Abubakar is alive to bear me witness. Atiku said I wanted him to quarrel with his boss. I said no but you know me. You know that I don’t gossip about. I said it was a serious matter and that I was ready to repeat everything Obasanjo told me in the presence of both of them.

Did Atiku believe this?
No, he didn’t believe it. On many occasions I told Atiku that Obasanjo was very bitter about him. The bitterness was hinged on the fact that Obasanjo wanted to be a life president. He saw Atiku as a threat to his ambition then. So, anything that was a threat had to be taken out of the way. That was what I noticed and I told Atiku.

But by 2002 you and some governors had started plotting how to stop Obasanjo even from second term!
It wasn’t a plot as such but what happened was that I disturbed Babangida on the matter. I told him of the consequences of Obasanjo becoming President again. Things that Babangida told me in confidence I am afraid I cannot reveal it in this interview. And Governor Abdulkadir Kure and I plotted for Atiku to become president.

You and Kure plotted for Atiku to become president?
Yes.

That is a bit difficult to believe because what we heard was that it was Babangida who wanted to be president and you were his hidden persuaders?
No, no, no, this is why I argue with people. I have never seen Babangida anxiously wanting to become president again since he left. In 2002, if you ask me, Babangida had about 50 per cent loyalty for Obasanjo and 50 per cent for Atiku. But sycophants went behind to tell Atiku that Babangida was his enemy. I am an adult but I cannot tell you what transpired afterwards, how we got the form for Atiku to run and who paid for the form. How we signed the forms and so on. But at the last point, Atiku just backpedalled.

You bought the form for whom?
For Atiku!

You mean either you or who obtained the form for Atiku?
Somebody obtained the form. The detail I cannot disclose further. But somebody paid for the form.

We heard that IBB paid for the form?
I cannot disclose anybody’s name here. To be honest with you, all I knew then was that Babangida wished Atiku well.

What we heard was that Babangida was doing everything to stop Atiku from becoming the president?
It was not true at that particular time. It is a problem if a leader is surrounded by sycophants who do not tell him the truth. At that time, the two greatest problems I had to manage in my life were managing Atiku and Babangida’s relationship and two, managing Atiku and Jubril Aminu’s relationship.

These were things which could have killed me. I made a decision in my house, told my wife, my father and mother that I would not drop my relationship with any of them. And that is what I have done. I continued to be in good terms with them. When I go to this man’s house I don’t discuss the others. But I don’t really see Atiku and Babangida as enemies. They are not quarrelling. It is just a creation of you people in the media.

Is it true that Obasanjo told you he wanted to do third term?
He told me that he wanted to be life president. Not directly though. I am not a child so, he could not have told me pointedly that he wanted to be a life president. He went about it in a roundabout way. He told me that Eyadema is still there. I was angry. I was Abia State governor when he was President of Nigeria. When I sat with him and he started telling me that, “Look, Eyadema is still there. Omar Bongo is still there and Hosni Mubarak is still there. These are the people I left. I didn’t even know why I left power. I built Nigeria and equipped the Nigerian Airways. Look at the mess they have created for Nigeria? Can you imagine that?” When a president compares himself with Kerekou and you hear this kind of things, am I a fool? May be he told other people this story but they never knew where he was going. And this is why from day one, he wanted to be life president.

What did you do then?
We started mobilizing people to stop. We stopped him. When I noticed that he wanted to stay in power, I told Babangida and Gen. Aliyu Gusau. Gusau just waved it away and said Obasanjo could not do that to a nation as big as Nigeria. Babangida did the same thing. I told many people and church leaders. I told President Nelson Mandela when I visited him in July 2003. I told Mandela that Obasanjo is planning to be life president. Mandela said, “No, Oba can’t do that. It is not possible. I will phone him. He cannot try that. He knows how big Nigeria is. The ethnic groups in Nigeria are not like here (South Africa). They will take it personal.”

I also told President Thabo Mbeki and many other African presidents. I told the Ghanaian president that Obasanjo wanted to do a third term. During the Enyimba’s last match in Egypt in 2003, I told President Hosni Mubarak. I told him that, “You people should talk to Obasanjo because he is looking at you and saying you are still in power.” I told some people that he was going to use EFCC as an instrument. Remember when the Federal Government released the EFCC Act, I was the first person to go to Supreme Court to challenge it. Nigerians forget easily and the media in Nigeria has been hostile to me for long despite the price and sacrifices I made for democracy in this country.

I saw the danger that was coming to this nation and I was the first to tell Atiku that this man wanted to be a life president. He did didn’t believe me. He said how could that old man think about that? You know Atiku with his benevolence, openness and the way he thinks, he just waved it aside. I said: “Turakin, you are taking this matter lightly.” The only person I had and will still have as an ally is Bola Tinubu. When I told him he believed me and said he could see it in the behaviour of that man.

Tinubu believed you?
He believed me from day one. He said,“Orji, I do not disbelieve what you told me. Let us watch and fight him. Let us perfect the strategy to fight him even if it means the two of us dying.” He told me that in his Marina house in Lagos. My problem with Obasanjo has to do with so many things. He wanted me to contest the Lagos State governorship against Tinubu in 2003.

How?
He wanted me to be governor of Lagos State! He quarreled with me about Tinubu. He asked why I should go to Alaba Market with Tinubu to introduce him to Igbo traders. He sent Bernabas Gemade, the then PDP Nation Chairman, to query me. He called it anti-party activities!

Why did he want you to contest against Tinubu?
Just to spite Tinubu! He just wanted Tinubu out of Lagos.

Why use an Igbo man?
I don’t know. I believed that he reckoned that with the the popularity I had then and the number of Igbos in Lagos, we would just make deals with some other people like Akwa Ibom, Benin and some Hausa people and we would have won. Whether the strategy would have worked or not is a different issue.

He wanted to humiliate Tinubu?
Yes, that is really the point. But I said no, I could not do that because my children go to Tinubu’s house for weekend and virtually live there. I told him that in my tradition you don’t harm a man you eat with. I went to Tinubu and told him that Obasanjo did not wish him well, that he planned evils against him. And then, we went to Alaba Market together. Obasanjo just asked Gemade to expel me from the PDP. Gemade is alive, you can ask him. I went with Gemade to him. He accused me of anti-party activities by being a friend of Tinubu. Gemade didn’t agree with him. That was part of Gemade’s problem with Obasanjo again. He told Gemade that, “If you say Kalu is right, we will see.”

You know how he behaves. You can see that these things have come a long way. There are too many things in my stomach which I would not want to vomit now. People should wait for my book entitled My Life. My life will explain everything about those eight years very well. I don’t want you people to discourage Nigerian from buying the book.

Could Nigeria have gone the way of Kenya if third term had succeeded?
Let me tell you the truth, if they had passed the amendment of the constitution, I and few others had already planned a strong mass action in Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Ibadan, Aba and other commercial cities. We wanted to ground down everything. We wanted to challenge Obasanjo and say, “You cannot do this.” So, God saved us. Nigeria was almost going towards Kenya. Anybody who told you that Nigerians cannot go on the street is lying. People only want somebody to organize them and they would go on the street.

When showed Obasanjo openly that he wanted third term, how did you people mobilize to stop him?
Well, I went to the late Sultan of Sokoto (May his soul rest in peace). I told him that this thing is dangerous and he had better call a meeting. I went to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero. I told him the same thing. He promised that something would be done.

I called the traditional rulers in the East and told them. I mentioned it to the Obi of Onitsha, Eze Ukandu, and many other traditional rulers in our area. I told them that we must resist it. I went back to Babangida. I went to tell Governor Kure to persuade Babangida to take the matter seriously. Both of us went back to IBB. He now noticed that it was serious. I now went to speak with Gen T. Y. Danjuma. I told him that if people like him did not speak out against this ill, Nigerians would think you are part of it. And that people are saying that you, Gen Danjuma, are part of it.

I like Danjuma so much. The only thing I don’t like was the last interview he gave 40 years after Ironsi’s death and he said some uncharitable things about the dead. I think they should let bygone to be bygone. Reopening old wounds was not good. Otherwise, Danjuma is one of the forthright Generals we have in this country. You can know where he stands. You can know his opinion. So, I talked to him, advised him to talk to the people at the National Assembly. Let me tell you, Danjuma’s wife was a great woman in the fight against third term. God will bless Senator Daisy Danjuma. She was forthright in fighting it and she contributed a lot to make sure third term did not work. That is why they dropped her.

You can see that everybody paid a price collectively. Few people who refused to be disgraced like Chukwumerije, who was in the forefront of anti-third term war. It was a real war. A matter of life and death for us. The lesson of the third term battle is that you can’t win great battles in life if you are not ready to put down your life. After the third term battle, we have to fight the battle to retain Abia State and to win our senatorial seats. Chukwumereije and I put down our lives in order not to lose that senatorial district to Obasanjo’s forces of vengeance.

Thank God we did not lose it. And I am happy. I feel fulfilled even if I didn’t gain other things. I might not have won Aso Rock but collectively with people like Atiku, Tinubu, Daisy Danjuma, Chukwumerije, Ben Obi, Osoba and few others, we won democracy for this country. At least, the beauty of constitutional democracy is term limit. We told Obasanjo that he could not do it, that he was one man.

I was worried how many prominent Nigerians that refused to speak out against third term. They were afraid of Obasanjo’s machinery and what he could use the EFCC to do to them. They were not ready to make the kind of sacrifices we were making then. Today, you see people now come out to abuse Obasanjo. Then, people said I was a rascal for speaking out. But today, it is no longer rascality to abuse Obasanjo now. Now some of these people have the guts to talk about Obasanjo. Many of them should simply bury their heads in shame. They have no moral right to talk about Obasanjo now.

Many of these people…?
They were friends of the government or pretended to be. They wined and dined with him, telling him that what he was doing was right. Now they have run away. Only few Nigerians have moral right to talk about Obasanjo now. Tinubu is one of them. I am one of them. Governor Kure is one. Atiku is one. We all stood against him. What I lost in terms of economic and material things nobody lost it because Obasanjo virtually took everything I have. He was vowed and was determined to bankrupt me but he is no God.

What is it about power that is so addictive that people won’t let go?
I don’t know anything about power. All I know is that I have rendered service to Abia people. I don’t know what has changed. I don’t know what changed in four years. But I was there when Obasanjo declared me the action governor. I don’t know what has changed. I am still as forthright as I was as governor. I can never change or be bought over with money. If I wanted money, I would have been in Obasanjo’s camp. Most of my businesses are linked with NNPC and I knew the consequences of disagreeing with the president who was also the minister of petroleum.

Did he make attempts to make peace?
Oh, sure! He made a lot of reconciliation offers through my mother and some other people and I said ‘No’. Honestly, I will praise Babangida with his own type of mind. On many occasions, Babangida advised me and offered to reconcile me and the president. I said no. This was when Atiku’s presidential ambition collapsed. I resisted. I wonder why Nigerians should sit down with Obasanjo who will deceive and lie to them. Only Tinubu and I know, understand and decode who Obasanjo is. And we ran away from him because he wanted our lives and everything we have. The only thing that drew me to Aso Rock was the mandatory Council of State meeting. At a time I stopped going. Likewise Tinubu. When you are in a meeting with Obasanjo you are wasting your time. If it is two hours meeting, he will speak for one hour forty-five minutes.

Have you settled with Anenih?
I have never quarrelled with him on personal ground. I only said the road they said they constructed from Enugu to Port Harcourt was a ruse. My late deputy told me in confidence; the late Gen. Abdulkarim Adisa was there, that Anenih said he would kill me. I said well, I have to shout. Since I shouted, nobody has been killed in the nation’s political circle again. I have no quarrel with him. He is a man I have a lot of respect for.


Something must be wrong with Nigerian politicians. One man is able to intimidate all of you except maybe a few that you can count on the fingers of one hand. So what is really wrong with the kind of politicians we have?

I don’t think all these people are politicians because for instance, my colleague governors were very united but Obasanjo divided us. I will tell you that I used to be very close to Governor Odili and I warned him against going too close to Obasanjo. Odili and I used to exchange visits. I would leave Umuahia at the close of work and I would have dinner with Odili in Port Harcourt but he quarreled with me when my relationship with Obasanjo went sour. It was really no quarrel.

We are just not as close as we used to be. As far as I am concerned, Odili is a kind, easy-going person. The only thing that came between us was when I told him evil things Obasanjo was doing in the country.

Why was he angry? Was it because he was aiming at something?
I do not know. At the level we were, I didn’t mind if he became president. I told him, if PDP nominated him, I would support him. And that he should support me if I was nominated. We agreed that if power would remain in the south, the candidate would not be Obasanjo. Because Obasanjo was playing on the intelligence of everybody and saying it was still the turn of the south. He said we should not mind the northerners, that they would not get the Presidencey. He hurriedly planned a successor. I must say that Yar’Adua will disappoint Obasanjo because Yar’Adua is not a fool. He is an intelligent man who knows that it is the people of Nigeria that are keeping him in office.

Why did Obasanjo pick Yar’Adua? Do you think Obasanjo had good intentions when he picked him?
Obasanjo had no good intentions about Yar’Adua. I remember I had this argument with James Ibori and we both agreed that Yar’Adua would not die on the campaign trail, that he would be President. Obasanjo’s calculation

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.