While speaking on Thursday at the launch of Ahmadu Ali’s biography in Abuja, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, recounted how he “conspired” with Ahmadu Ali, a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to sack US officials from the American embassy in the 1970s.
He said Ali had been appointed head of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and he needed an office which was being occupied by the embassy.
Obasanjo said, “Amadu Ali had been appointed the head of the NYSC and he needed an office and it was being occupied by the American embassy and it was too close to the cabinet office.
“It was something we had complained and protested against and we expected the Americans to vacate and be given an alternative office but they wouldn’t leave,” he recounted.
“So, Ahmadu Ali and I conspired together that we would move the Americans out of that office.
“Of course, I belonged to the corps of engineers I had military men under my command, Amadu had none under his command so I had to be used to perform the task. And I made it a military operation.
“By 4am soldiers had surrounded the office and when the Americans were coming to work in the morning, they were not allowed to go in and of course, I didn’t realise the diplomatic implication. They moved out and Amadu Ali had an office.”
Obasanjo, who spoke further, said the issue escalated when the Americans “violently protested” and reported him to Yakubu Gowon, then military president.
“So, when I spoke with General Gowon this morning about the incident, he asked ‘so, Ahmadu Ali was part of it?’ and I said, “Ahmadu Ali was the cause of it,” he added.
Gowon was also present at the launch of the biography titled ‘The Many Colours of a Rainbow’.