Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said he was not in the dark about the health challenge his successor, late Umaru Yar’adua, who died in office was having before he decided to back him for presidency.
Allegation of deliberately installing weak successor knowing fully well Yar’adua was sick coupled with claim that the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, has a weak personality in order to weaken Nigeria’s democracy is always imputed to Obasanjo.
The ex-President on Sunday in an online interview he granted historian, Professor Toyin Falola monitored by our correspondent, denied any wrong in his choice of late Yar’adua and Jonathan.
“Let me tell you the story of Umaru Yar’adua. I knew he was ill and before I put him forward, I asked for his medical report which he sent to me and I sent it to one of the best doctors of our time and a good friend of mine who died only last year –Professor Akinkugbe.
“I said look at it because it is confidential and he said to me that from this report, this man has had a kidney transplant and it is successful, he is no longer under dialysis. And if you have a kidney transplant and it is successful, it is as good as if you didn’t have a kidney transplant at all. I accepted that and Umaru Yar’adua contested within the party and he contested within the country and came up.
“In the process of the campaign, I remember that he had to go for a medical checkup abroad and he was not around for a campaign here in Abeokuta. I called him because the rumour was that he had died. I called him on my telephone and put it on speaker. I said, ‘Umaru, are you dead or alive?’ and he said, ‘I am not dead, I am alive’.
“Within a couple of days, he came back and reported that he was checked up and he was well. That was the position of Umaru Yar’adua and if anybody in his right sense will think that what I have done in that position was not right, I leave him in the hands of God,” Obasanjo said, adding “Now, we needed a running mate for Yar’adua. There were two possibilities – the first possibility was Peter Odili. Peter Odili was a much stronger personality than Goodluck Jonathan but Peter Odili had an EFCC issue which made him to be dropped and once he was dropped, the next man was Goodluck Jonathan and Goodluck Jonathan had all going for him. He was not a strong character as Peter Odili, I will admit that, but he was not a pushover; he had been a deputy governor, he had been a governor and his state was doing fairly well.
“I don’t know what else anybody will say because the deputy president had to come from the South and we had agreed that it would come from the South-South.”