Arsonists set VP, Atiku's property ablaze
By Jide Ajani, Umar Yusuf, Rotimi Ajayi, Charles Ozoemena & Emma Aziken
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
* As PDP mediates Obasanjo-Atiku feud
YOLA - PEOPLE sus-pected to be arsonists have set on fire the ABTI Academy Complex housing the ABTI/American University and ABTI Ventures, both in Yola and believed to be owned by Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. The police say they have arrested five persons in connection with the attack.
However, despite the cold war between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku, both men were at their duty posts yesterday just 24 hours after the President said on television that his deputy had failed to prove his loyalty to him (Obasanjo) when challenged to do so.
However, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) is to wade into the face-off between President Obasanjo and the Vice President Atiku. National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr John Odey, told reporters last night that the party could not afford to allow the face-off between the two leaders of the party to degenerate.
Mr Odey said the party was conscious of the dangers the continued altercation between the two leaders could cause to the party.
The PDP, he said, would organise a frank talk between the two leaders to enhance the image of the party. He, however, said there was no division within the party.
The opposition ANPP, reacting to the face-off, said God was at work, sending confusion into their midst.
Foot soldiers on both sides, appeared yesterday to be spoiling for a show down, while outspoken Senator Ibrahim Kuta asked Vice President Atiku and presidential aspirant, General Ibrahim Babangida, to join forces to confront the president.
The police in Adamawa later said not much damage was done by the arsonists before the fire was put off.
The out-going Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Hafiz Ringing, told reporters in Yola that a report was lodged with the police over the incident and security operatives were drafted to the two business places leading to the arrest of the five suspects.
Security operatives drafted to the two places recovered some quantity of petrol in polythene bags abandoned by the arsonists. He ruled out political motive. The Police Commissioner confirmed that security had been beefed up around all property owned by the Vice President.
Foot soldiers at work
The face-off between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar is set to enter another level as foot soldiers on both side of the divide are spoiling for a showdown, Vanguard can reveal authoritatively.
In separate interviews last night, aides to both President Obasanjo and Vice President Abubakar maintained that the present face-off between their bosses might enter another level soon as a source in the Presidency said the statement made by President Obasanjo during his monthly media chat on Sunday was as a result of months of studied silence on the issue of disloyalty.
In fact, Vanguard was informed for quite a while: "President Obasanjo had been the one insisting that we should thread softly on issues concerning his deputy. He had been the one restraining most of us not to open up. But when you look at the latest statements credited to the Vice President and for which he had not denied, you can then begin to imagine what his boss, President Obasanjo had been going through all along.
"There was the issue of the presidential primaries of 2003 and which people were already beginning to overlook. But the truth of the matter is that when you look at recent statements credited to the Vice President, it would be very clear that what has been going on is a matter of clear and manifest disloyalty."
However, a former aide to Vice President Abubakar told Vanguard: "What we have decided to do is to ensure that as much as possible we do not get involved in any form of media battle.
Obasanjo, Atiku at work yesterday
In spite of the estranged relationship between President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku, both of them were at their duty posts yesterday, but with an unusual calm at the State House. Both the president?s side and that of his deputy were very calm.

However, their aides and some staff of the State House were seen discussing in low tunes the unfolding drama and the possible consequences of the quarrel between the most visible personalities in Nigeria?s seat of power.
While the President attended to a delegation from Kwara that came to the State House with the Zimbabwean white farmers as well as received a delegation from the United States-based International Fertilizer Development Corporation, the Vice President who arrived Abuja from Yola, Sunday evening, opened the Stakeholders? Forum on Technological Adaptation for Processing of Sesame Seed Products in Nigeria. He also received the Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe.
Attempt by newsmen to get a possible reaction of the Vice President on the raid on his house in Maryland, United States by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) proved difficult. His Chief Press Secretary, Mohammed Yakub, told Vanguard that the case had become a diplomatic affair and so no comment "until the report of the investigation comes out"
ANPP says it is an act of God
The All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) has described the discordant tunes between President Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku on their relationship as a confusion wrought by God for the People?s Democratic Party?s (PDP) dishonesty on the 2003 elections.
Responding to the conflicting positions of the nation?s top two political office holders on the bond between the two of them, Alhaji Ibrahim Modibo, national publicity secretary of the ANPP said what was happening was bound to happen to those who stole the mandate of the people.
"It is an act of God, one after the other PDP is daily on the verge of total collapse. You know when people steal other people?s victory, so it is an act of God bringing confusion, bringing crisis and also trying to bring an atmosphere of total disharmony and collapse of the party," Alhaji Modibo said.
Noting that the emerging crisis in the administration signalled the death of the ruling party, Alhaji Modibo said: "I want to assure all that PDP is on its death bed. What is happening is nothing surprising because we knew it was bound to happen. I want to suggest to President Obasanjo that he should quickly handover to General Buhari because he did not win the 2003 election."
Senator Kuta wants IBB, Atiku to confront OBJ
Senators yesterday evaded comments on the altercation between President Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku. But Senator Idris Kuta in an exception, dared General Ibrahim Babangida and Vice-President Atiku to join forces to get an assurance from the President on his exit strategy. Senator Kuta has equally called for an apology from the United States government for the raid.
Senator Kuta, chairman of the Senate Committee on Works spoke in response to President Obasanjo?s claims of disloyalty on the part of the Vice-President and reports of the alleged raid by American security agents on Atiku?s American residence.
However, several other Senators contacted yesterday refused to comment on the issue. One Senator called on phone said he was at the airport going away from Abuja while another Senator contacted in the National Assembly complex told journalists to pretend he was never seen when the issue of the perceived misunderstanding between the President and his deputy was raised.
However, responding to the development, Senator Kuta traced the misunderstanding between the nation?s first two political office holders to the quest for political ascendancy ahead of 2007.
"The Vice-President is in a fix in the sense that he has indicated his interest to vie for the presidency in 2007. Obasanjo on the other hand is trying to scheme his way into extending his tenure. So, there is no way the two of them can get on well, they have to fight. One wanting the other to go and the other one not wanting to go and it is we the followers that are going to suffer," Senator Kuta said yesterday.
Noting that the conspiracy to extend the tenure of present political office holders was a scripted plot also involving the governors, he said: "Today, we don?t know what the president and the governors are up to. Are they prepared to leave in 2007 or not? I keep saying that I feel sorry for those who are too eager to look for what is not vacant. When you talk to people around the president they tell you that there is no vacancy in the villa. You go to Government Houses in the states, those who are following the governors are saying there is no vacancy. So where do we go?"

NITEL denies US telecom firm
NITEL management said yesterday that it had no relationship with US telecom firm, Gates, allegedly linked to a meeting with Vice President Atiku. The firm was said to have presented a proposal to Vice President Atiku to speed up its broadband technology.
Speaking in an interview in Abuja, spokesman of NITEL, Mr Tayo Ekundayo, said the company had no previous deal with the US outfit and had not met any of its representatives. "We do not know the company and have nothing to do with it and the broadband high speed they are talking about, is what we are exploring with new facilities," he said.


Obasanjo seizes IBB, Abubakar, Danjuma’s oil blocs

By Bayo Oladeji
Snr Correspondent, Abuja

President Olusegun Obasanjo has reportedly sanctioned two former Heads of State, a former defence minister and five others for awarding oil blocs to themselves cheaply.
The issue came into the open at the Christopher Kolade Panel set up by the President in the early days of his administration, and led to a report said to have indicted Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Theophilus Danjuma and some ministers who served in the Abacha and Abubakar regimes.
A source in the Presidency who played prominent roles in the implementation of the report said Obasanjo was “shocked and disappointed with the cost of blocs awarded these prominent Nigerians and he had to wield the big stick to serve as a deterrent. As expected, this did not go down well with them but Abdulsalami apologised while most of the others expressed anger”.
He disclosed that the awardees were asked to pay a paltry sum of $20 whereas an average bloc costs over $200.
“This was one of the efforts made to sanitise the oil sector when we came in but the public is not aware of it. I learnt that it was as a result of this incident Danjuma called it quits with the government”, he added.
The source said when the President got the report, he was prevailed upon not to go for total cancellation.
“You know the rule says expatriates should get 40 per cent while Nigerians take 60 per cent. So, what Mr. President did was to ask the people involved to forfeit 50 per cent of their share to the government and go away with the remaining 10 per cent. I believe this is fair enough but, as expected, those involved would not be happy. I told you this to know what the place looked like when we came in.
“If it were during the military regime, the open and transparent oil blocs round held at the weekend would not be possible. What they would just do would be to give these blocs to themselves. The more reason the sector needs the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiatives the President has introduced”.