A former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Amadu Ali, says he supported tenure elongation for former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 because the ex-President had done remarkably well.
Ali said this in his biography titled, ‘The Many Colours of a Rainbow,’which was launched in Abuja on Thursday.
In the 423-page book written by Gideon Tseja, the former PDP chairman said Obasanjo was not part of any scheme but had merely submitted 106 proposals to the National Assembly one of which included tenure elongation.
He said the decision to support Obasanjo’s tenure extension was a personal one and he never used his position as party chairman to manipulate the system in favour of Obasanjo.
The book read, “What happened was that in the previous PDP administration (1999-2003) a number of constitutional amendments – 106 of them – was proposed. The new House took up the unfinished business which had been publicised and gazetted and began to debate.
“One of the proposed amendments was on the extension of the term of the President. The press focused on this one proposal and spawned new emotive descriptions to characterise the proposal as ‘President for life’, sit-tight President,’ tenure elongation campaign and so on.
“Senator Amadu Ali had his personal views about it and in fact, supported Obasanjo’s ‘tenure elongation’ wholeheartedly because he genuinely believed that Obasanjo was an extraordinarily good leader in spite of his perceived failings.”
Ali, who was also a Federal Commissioner for Education during the ‘Ali Must Go’ university protests which left students killed in 1978, said he was wrongly blamed for the incident.
He explained that the protests erupted after the decision to increase the lodging fee from N150 to N468 per session while the cost of feeding was also increased by 50k.
The former PDP chairman said the decision was taken by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Jibril Aminu, and Chief of Staff to the Supreme Military Council, Gen Shehu Yar’Adua, without his knowledge.
Speaking at the event which had in attendance, ex-President Obasanjo and former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, the former PDP chairman called on youths to stop waiting for power to be handed over to them.
Ali, who is the protem chairman of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, said Gowon, who was 31 when he became head of state, had already imbued himself with leadership skills before he rose to power as he was already controlling a battalion of 1,000 men before becoming commander-in-chief.
Also speaking at the event, Obasanjo praised Ali for his love for Nigeria.
The former President said he and Ali had done many good and ‘bad’ things together including when they sacked United States officials from their embassy in the early 1970s.
Obasanjo said, “Amadu Ali had been appointed the head of the NYSC and he needed an office and it was being occupied by the American embassy and it was too close to the cabinet office. It was something we had complained and protested against and we expected the Americans to vacate and be given an alternative office but they wouldn’t leave.
“So, Amadu Ali and I conspired together that we would move the Americans out of that office. Of course, I belonged to the corps of engineers I had military men under my command, Amadu had none under his command so I had to be used to perform the task. And I made it a military operation.
“By 4am soldiers had surrounded the office and when the Americans were coming to work in the morning, they were not allowed to go in and of course, I didn’t realise the diplomatic implication. They moved out and Amadu Ali had an office.
“But it didn’t stop there because the Americans violently protested and I was reported to the Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and I was carpeted. So, when I spoke with Gen Gowon this morning about the incident, he said, ‘So, Amadu Ali was part of it?’ and I said, “Amadu Ali was the cause of it!”
Gowon said Obasanjo would have been dismissed from the army for causing a diplomatic incident but was spared because he was too important to be let go.