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2007: Obasanjo wants Odili as successor – Na’Abba

Posted by Festus Owete (Abuja) and Olayinka Oyebode on 2005/09/03 | Views: 543 |

2007: Obasanjo wants Odili as successor – Na’Abba


Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba, has alleged that President Olusegun Obasanjo was positioning River State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, to succeed him in 207.

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba, has alleged that President Olusegun Obasanjo was positioning River State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, to succeed him in 207.

The former speaker warned that by implication, both Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and former military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, may not achieve their ambition to rule the country in 2007.

Na’Abba, who spoke at a recent private session of the Northern Union (NU) at Le Meridien Hotel, Abuja, alleged that Obasanjo’s plot ran contrary to the agreement of a revered caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party late 2002.

At the session, which was attended by Saturday Punch, Na’Abba vowed that the North would resist the bid.

He said that at the 2002 meeting, which was attended by Obasanjo, Abubakar and the then President of the Senate, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, the party leaders decided through voting that the president be allowed to run for a second term after which a northerner would succeed him in 2007.

Na’Abba said, “I was in the meeting by virtue of my being the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Senate president was there. Top leaders of our party were at the meeting, including the president and the vice president and by a vote of about 42 to 1, it was unanimously agreed within our party that the Presidency should remain in the South up till 2007; and after 2007, it would come back to the North.”

Na’Abba said he was, therefore, surprised that during one of his monthly televised media chats, Obasanjo said that it was only the South-West zone that could not canvass for the Presidency in 2007.

Na’Abba said the statement implied that other geo-political zones from the South could present candidates for the nation’s highest political office on the platform of the party.

He added, “I became disturbed because I am also aware that he is preparing somebody, a governor in the South-South zone, Peter Odili, to become president of this country. And I was disturbed and I said something very, very serious must be done about this situation.”

Na’Abba vowed that the North would resist any attempt by PDP’s leadership to impose a candidate on the party, stressing that northerners would mobilise themselves to pick one of their own who is acceptable as a presidential candidate.

“There must be conscious efforts to get somebody or support somebody who is popular with the people of the North and the people of Nigeria.

“He must be a person of integrity, probity, accountability and somebody who has the attributes of a leader because I know there are plans to impose on Nigerians just any northerner who is ready to do the bidding of others.”

Na’Abba said it was as a result of this that he was shocked that both Abubakar and Babangida, who are leading contenders for the 2007 presidential race, had failed to align their ambitions. This, he said, had further raised fears that both men could lose out of the race.

The former Speaker said, “I started making my own private efforts by bringing the two northern candidates together, that is Ibrahim Babangida and the vice president and I talked to both of them about the desire to have each one of them to coordinate his ambition in the larger interest of the people.

“If you ask them, they will tell you that I spoke to them individually on this matter.”

He continued, “I tried to draft some important people into this campaign but they frustrated my efforts; for whatever reason I don’t know.

Responding to the allegations, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. John Odey, told our correspondent on phone, “I am not aware of the meeting. If we must know about that, then we will go back to the minutes of the meeting. If any member of the NEC wants to know, he has to go back to the minutes. So, I cannot tell you that it is true or not because I have not seen the minutes of the meeting.”

Also speaking, Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said on telephone, “I don’t know anything about that. So, it is difficult for us to comment.”

Odili’s camp, however, claimed ignorance of the plan to draft the governor into the race.

The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Emma Okah, said on telephone on Friday, “Na’Abba has a right to his own opinion. I canot react to that claim since he did not say that the governor was the one lobbying to be to be considered. He said it was the president, so let The Presidency clear that.

“But as far as we are concerned, we are not aware of such an arrangement by the president to make Governor Odili his successor. And there is nothing here to suggest the existence of such an arrangment. So, let Na’Abba substantiate the claim since he was the one who got the information.”

SATURDAY PUNCH, September 03, 2005

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

Actually translates to bravehearted.