Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is said to have refused to allow Vice President Atiku Abubakar to travel on vice president’s official jet, temporarily disrupting his holiday plans. The president had previously approved of the vice president’s vacation. Sources say Abubakar had to fly out of the country on a commercial airline. Meanwhile, the vice president’s office has condemned the president’s action.
Shehu Garuba is Vice President Abubakar’s spokesman. He talked about the vice president’s disappointment.
“The vice president told me some weeks ago in line with established practice he had written to the president expressing his wish to go to the United States of America for a three-week vacation in the course of which he would do his medicals. Now the president gave a written approval. But when he went to the airport at midnight yesterday to leave for the United States, the airport commandant informed the vice president that the president had asked that he should not release the plane,” he said.
Garuba continued, “So the vice president retuned home, he was disappointed and made private arrangements to fly out of the country aboard a British airways flight this morning,” he said.
Garuba said the vice president was disappointed because he believed President Obasanjo did not show him any courtesy
“Well two things: One, of course there was a feeling of disappointment because as the number two citizen, he deserves the ordinary courtesy of being informed of this. The vice president had packed his bag and everything only to be confronted at the point of boarding the plane by an official that this plane is not available to you,” he noted.
Garuba also said the vice president felt disrespected.
“He felt that this is an act of denigration for both his office and his person. But the other part of it of course is that the vice president said to me that he never felt too big to fly in commercial aviation. In fact, he had always looked forward to the day when he would have finished his public service and live his life like any ordinary Nigerian,” Garuba noted.
He said the vice president did not protest because he knows the president was just playing what he called dirty politics.
“The vice president felt that this is all about politics and therefore did not need to go to anybody for an explanation. He felt there was no need to do this because the president did not see the need to extend the courtesy to him to advising him to stay at home and that his flight plan has been cancelled because he has grounded the aircraft,” Garuba said.
He said Vice President Abubakar’s 2007 presidential office totally condemned the presidents action because of what he called the president’s dictatorship rule.
“The campaign office has denounced his (President Obasanjo’) act. Now this is in the belief that when you denigrate the office of the vice president or when you destroy that office because you don’t like the person who is there, you are doing something which hurts future occupants in the office,” he said.