Former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, has sensationally revealed in his new book that former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was in financial dire strait in 2007, when he ran for President.

Akande, a former governor of Osun State, also states that Atiku, whose relationship with his principal, President Olusegun Obasanjo at the period was frosty, wholly leaned on then Action Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for financial and logistic supports.

But the author demurs in the autobiography titled, “My Participations”, that it is bewildering that same Atiku later betrayed Tinubu, by reneging on their gentleman’s agreement that he would make Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor, his running mate.

Recall that when Obasanjo and his VP, Atiku, fell apart as they were about to end their eight-year final tenure, the latter, getting frustrated in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, defected to the AC, where he was warmly received by Tinubu and handed the presidential ticket.

Akande recalls in the book that Atiku made a solemn pledge to Tinubu to make him his running mate in the 2007 presidential race, and at the time relied almost totally on Tinubu to fund virtually all aspects of the presidential campaigns.

As for the AC, however, the party was more or less a child of necessity, as the Alliance for Democracy to which most Yoruba leaders belonged had been rooted out of its South-West stronghold through the 2003 general elections.

Of all the six Southwest governors at the period, only Tinubu survived what has now been known as “political Tsunami”, as he secured a second term as Governor of Lagos State, on the AD platform.

Governors Olusegun Osoba of Ogun, Lam Adesina of Oyo, Akande of Osun, Adebayo Adefarati of Ondo and Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti all lost lost out in one fell swoop, at the 2003 governorship elections.

“In 2007, we formed a party, the AC, with Abubakar Atiku. We agreed that Atiku should be our presidential candidate and we had the understanding that he would run with Bola Tinubu.

“I was the chairman of the AC. One day, after we had nominated Atiku as our presidential candidate, one young man came and gave me a form from INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission). I told him I could not sign a blank form and that I, as the Chairman, must know the name that would be filled in it.

“The young man, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, must have been the organising right-hand man of Atiku. He was an active person from Kano. The following morning, he came again with Lawan Kaita. Kaita begged me and said it was Ben Obi’s whom Atiku had chosen as his running mate behind our back.

“So, I signed the form because I believed as the candidate, Atiku had the right to choose his running-mate. If I refused to sign, that would create a crisis.

“We believed that Atiku should have chosen his running mate from the AD even if he was no longer favourably disposed to Tinubu. With Atiku, the party would be strong in the North, but because of the preponderance of PDP in the South-East and the South-South, it would face more resistance in that area.

Obasanjo was stepping down from the Presidency. Therefore, the Yoruba, even the few that benefitted from his arrogant rule, would no longer be obliged to vote for the PDP.

“Segun Osoba, Niyi Adebayo and Lam Adesina had earlier met Atiku and we proposed to him our choice of Tinubu, and he promised to come back to us. He gave us a date. On that date, we all assembled. Atiku came with Audu Ogbe, Tom Ikimi and Usman Bugaje.

“We proposed that Tinubu should be the running mate, though Tinubu was not at the meeting. Atiku would not give us an immediate answer. He said he wanted to have more consultations.

“Ikimi, Ogbe and others were all very strong against Tinubu, because they said it would mean a Muslim-Muslim ticket. We deadlocked over that. Atiku never said anything. We left the meeting. What prompted us was that anytime we said we needed money, Atiku would say ‘Bola, please help us’. Bola was the only one spending the money among us. The rest of us were poor.

“Tinubu also put all his energy and resources into the formation of the AC and we felt he deserved a spot on the ticket. We discussed with Bola on this and he said we should discuss with Atiku. It was after we were deadlocked that they brought me the blank form. So, Atiku ran with Obi and failed. Only Lagos State from South West voted for Atiku in all the states of Nigeria.”Akande recounts.

In the 2007 presidential election, Atiku came a distant third. The poll was won by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, as now President Muhammadu Buhari of the then All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) came second.

When Atiku’s camp was contacted for its reaction, however, Paul Ibe, a spokesman of the former vice-president, said, “There’s no big deal in that.”

He criticised Akande, insinuating that the author did not put the issue in proper perspective.

To many however, the issue of ingratitude as displayed by Atiku towards Tinubu should be considered a big deal by any mortal with conscience.