•Anenih reveals how Ekwueme lost out, unveils IBB, Atiku, Aliyu connection
From Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
More than 13 years after, key reason the presidential ambition of former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme in 2003 hit the rock, has been revealed.
Equally divulged is a strange offer to Ekwueme in 1998 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, shortly after winning the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that he Ekwueme should become the Senate President. The facts emerged in a book written by Chief Tony Anenih.
Former PDP Chairman of Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, who made the disclosure, said former Military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and erstwhile National Security Adviser, Gen Mohammed Aliyu, helped in killing the presidential ambition of Ekwueme in 2002. He described the three as G3.
Anenih in his book “My Life and Nigerian Politics”, presented to the public last weekend, submitted that Ekwueme’s decision to declare his ambition in Minna, Niger State caused his poor performance at the PDP convention as the action created an impression that he was being prodded by the G3.
The book presentation which took place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja was attended by key political actors including former President Goodluck Jonathan, former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, scores of National Assembly members, former governors and PDP leaders.
He said: “We had four presidential aspirants , President Obasanjo, Dr Alex Ekwueme ,Alhaji Abubakar Rimi and Chief Barnabas Gemade. Ekwueme resigned a month before the election as Chairman of Board of Trustees of PDP. That position made him a kingmaker .
“His resignation from the position of kingmaker to that of wanting to be a king and wear the crown himself shocked many PDP members, moreso as the circumstances leading to his declaration at Minna in Niger State to run for presidency showed that he was a nominee of the G3 because he had earlier made an approach to Vice President Atiku to be his (Ekwueme’s) running mate.
“His performance and failure at the convention showed the level to which he had crashed because of the wrong steps he had taken by making his declaration in Minna and the path he decided to tread”.
On the offer of Senate presidency slot by Obasanjo after Ekwueme lost the battles to fly the flag of the party, Anenih narrated “In 1998 a PDP convention for the nomination party’s presidential candidate was held in Jos , Chief Obasanjo emerged the winner . We had series of meetings with various people , the same day of the convention. The first meeting we had was with Alex Ekwueme who lost to Chief Obasanjo at the convention.
“We had to meet him – myself ,party leaders and Chief Obasanjo himself- in order to reconcile with him.
It was at this meeting that Chief Obasanjo, in consultation with the party, offered him the position of Senate President. He said he would give the offer a thought. But he later decided to reject it. Instead, he nominated Sen Onyeabor Obi , also from the South-East to be offered the position. “Unfortunately, Onyeabor did not have the same qualities like Dr Alex Ekwueme.
Anenih revealed that zoning the Senate president seat to the South- East was initially not on the drawing board, but the but the then ruling party had to change the zoning arrangements to accommodate that .
He said “Since this position was not meant for the South-East zone, as it was personal to Dr Alex Ekwueme, it was thought proper to leave it to stay in the South East, having made the pronouncement to party leaders”.