He added that former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar merely claimed the victory for the truncation of the project.
El-Rufai, who disclosed these in his book, “The Accidental Public Servant,” said that Buhari fought third term ambition of Obasanjo without taking the credit.
He listed others, who also fought the Obasanjo’s third term dream as Dr. Usman Bugaje; Farouk Aliyu, Bala Na’Allah and Femi Gbajabiamila.
El-Rufai said, “In the House of Representatives, the most vocal and articulate opponents of the third term bid, who rallied around Dr. Usman Bugaje (Peoples Democratic Party), included Aliyu, Na’Allah of the All Nigeria Peoples Party and Gbajabiamila of the then Alliance for Democracy.
“They all did a great job, they were courageous and took risks to openly oppose the third term project, while others like Atiku claimed victory.”
He explained that between 2003 and the time the third term debate started, Obasanjo and Buhari were not on talking terms.
The former minister of the Federal Capital Territory said that he intervened and appealed to Buhari to be talking with Obasanjo.
El-Rufai said that he told Buhari during a visit that he should be talking with Obasanjo.
He said that he told Buhari, “You are a former President (Buhari); he (Obasanjo) is the current President. You were his petroleum minister (when he was a head of state). You were very close and enjoyed mutual respect. You should be talking,” he wrote in the book.
The former minister said after his intervention, a delegation representing Buhari had an initial meeting with Obasanjo at the Banquet Hall, near the State House in Abuja.
According to him, the delegation comprised Dr. Mahmood Tukur; Adamu Fika (Wazirin Fika) and Dr. Sulaiman Kumo.
He stated, “I learnt from Obasanjo that the trio led by Fika reportedly told him that his third term project would be defeated.
“At this point, I was not looking like a successful emissary in Obasanjo’s eyes, but my job was done.
“Merely by reaching out, we had succeeded in recruiting Buhari to spearhead the guerrilla warfare that helped end the ‘constitutional amendment’ debates in the National Assembly.”
Explaining the role of the former head of state, el-Rufai said, “Buhari remained available to engage with Obasanjo while making repeated trips to Abuja to visit legislators in their houses or calling them, making a pitch for them not to support the third term attempt.”
The former minister stated that Buhari had argued that the United States Constitution, which Nigeria’s was modelled after, started without a term limit provision but that US citizens later realised that term limit was necessary and hence it was added to the US constitution.
Buhari’s second argument, El-Rufai added, was that if the Nigerian constitution was amended to pave way for Obasanjo’s third term bid, nothing would stop him from further tenure elongation.
He said, “Buhari had considerable moral authority and was completely disinterested in the outcome of the third term debate, so having him available and physically in Abuja to oppose it helped a lot in defeating Obasanjo, Tony Anenih, Ahmadu Ali, Ojo Maduekwe, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Dalhatu Tafida and other third term protagonists.
“What was impressive about Buhari was that he did this quietly and effectively without the desire to claim any credit.”
El-Rufai also disclosed that as part of the third term project, a public communications management group was formed.
El-Rufai said the group budgeted N1.2bn for public relations.
He said, “Circulated at one of the meetings was a public relations budget for media spending to the tune of N1.2bn that was drawn up in support of the third term project.”
El-Rufai stated that when he asked how the money would be sourced, he was told that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Federal Capital Territory would provide it.
He said, “I had no intention of using FCT’s security budget for such an endeavour. I was therefore relieved when one of the newspapers in vehement opposition to the third term project obtained the budget and it was front page news a few days later.”
When contacted, Atiku’s spokesman, Mallam Garuba Shehu, said, “We thank God that El-Rufai is not the only Nigerian that witnessed the third term project. The facts cannot be changed to suit his current political need.”
He said that the former minister’s book was a tissue of lies.