FLASHBACK: When Tinubu Called Obasanjo ‘Election Rigger Without Peer’

On Wednesday, the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, visited former President, Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta for a closed-door meeting towards the actualisation of his presidential ambition.


On the entourage of Tinubu were the House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief Bisi Akande, Nuhu Ribadu among others.

Others who joined the APC National Leader to the meeting were Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and his Deputy, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, former governors, Olusegun Osoba, Gbenga Daniel and other APC bigwigs.

Obasanjo and Tinubu were believed to be adversaries especially between 2004 to 2007, during their respective administrations when Obasanjo was President and Tinubu governor of Lagos State. Obasanjo seized Lagos State’s local government funds in 2004 after accusing the governor of illegally creating additional local government councils.

The seizure was enforced until the end of the Obasanjo government in 2007, despite a Supreme Court order that the funds be released.

The funds were later released after Obasanjo left power.


Both politicians have never shared a political party but have always been on the opposite side of the divide.

However, Tinubu joined the APC delegation to Obasanjo in 2015 to solicit his support for then candidate of the party, Muhammadu Buhari.

Obasanjo eventually supported Buhari against then President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost his re-election bid.

THE WHISTLER reports that while there has been no reported public association between the pair, Tinubu’s visit on Wednesday had a tinge of irony.

Tinubu had in a letter on January 23, 2019, titled ‘Chief Obasanjo – At War Against His Own Deeds’, described Obasanjo in disparaging terms, calling him shameless leader who had a wicked sense of humour.


Tinubu said, “Former President Obasanjo is many things to many people; but he is all things unto himself. His recent contribution to our political discourse wherein he alleges plots to steer the coming elections shows he benefits from an exceedingly faulty memory, is purely shameless or has a most wicked sense of humour. Perhaps all three are facets of his makeup and were equally on display in his latest prosaic display.

“The crux of his long tirade was the allegation that INEC is poised to cook the election results. Chief Obasanjo should not get his dander up and waste good ink for nothing. This election will be a free and open exercise of the people’s right to choose their leaders. Obasanjo makes fiery allegations against this right but offers no corroborating evidence; he presents only reams of words.

“This is because Obasanjo is projecting onto the APC the misconduct he would work if still in power. Yet, the ways of Obasanjo are not those of the APC. And this difference has meant the better for Nigeria.

“Moreover, Chief Obasanjo should be the last to complain about election rigging. His administration was an unalloyed miscarriage of justice and of the best aspirations of the Nigerian people. We all know he was not elected in 1999. He was handed Nigeria on a silver platter; perhaps because Nigeria was so easily given that he went about treating the nation as if it was a less than precious thing; he thought it was a cheap give-away not a privilege to govern this nation.

“This man should have positioned himself to be the father of the nation. All the goodwill that could be granted a political figure was bestowed on him. The global economy was such that it fuelled our growth. Everyone wanted Nigeria to succeed after emerging from years of noxious military rule.

“Despite the flawed exercise that rendered him president, we all bit our tongues in hope that he would say and do the right things that would move Nigeria forward.


“Instead of being a unifying figure as Commander-in-chief, he lowered himself to being a divisive, vindictive conniver. There was no table which he neared that he did not upset and overturn. There was no one who came into his company for any period of time with whom he did not fall out if he expresses a thought contrary to one of his.

“Given the vast margin between the good he could have achieved and the nebulous feats that comprise his true record, Chief Obasanjo is the person most responsible for the flaws in the Nigerian political economy since 1999. His ego is as expansive as the firmament but his good deeds would fit into a modest sachet with ample room to spare.

“The worst of Obasanjo’s record, I have yet to describe. When it comes to elections, he has been a rigger without peer. There is no election which occurred under Obasanjo’s watch or in which he participated that did not involve cheating on his part. Even the late President Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua admitted he was the beneficiary of a flawed election engineered by none other than today’s vociferous complainant. For Obasanjo to lament over electoral malpractice is tantamount to the ocean complaining that a few raindrops are causing it to get wet.”

But the PDP quickly came to Obasanjo’s defence on January 24, 2019, tackling Tinubu in a statement by Director, Media & Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Organization, Kola Ologbondiyan, who said, “Tinubu in his tirade against the former President sounded like a disrobed ruler facing a pang of defeat as he watches his empire being legitimately taken.

“It is shocking that Asiwaju of Lagos can be in cahoots with President Muhammadu Buhari, a known anti-democrat, who has always been in league with all known dictators, while at the same time claiming to be on the side of democrats.

“It is, however, not a surprise that Tinubu is in severe pain because President Obasanjo exposed their rigging plans. Asiwaju had always won elections for himself and his cronies through rigging and these accounts for his bitterness.”

But responding to a question on how it feels that Tinubu has gone to court the same man he disparaged in his letter, the Director General of the Tinubu Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, explained that it is the nature of politics that there are no permanent enemies or friends.

He further explained that, Tinubu’s attack “was in response to an Obasanjo state of the nation statement, suggesting that the APC government would manipulate the election of that year. Of course, this turned out to be untrue.

“By castigating Obasanjo does not diminish the respect Tinubu has for him as an elder and pre-eminent statesman. This visit has reinforced that. Obasanjo himself captured the sentiment today when he said he and Tinubu remain brothers and not enemies.

“Politics is dynamic. No politician builds permanent grudges. Today’s enemy may become an ally tomorrow as Obasanjo, for instance supported the APC in 2015 election.”


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