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Lagos — Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has explained what informed his decision to elevate Goodluck Jonathan from governor of Bayelsa State to the Presidency as running mate and subsequently vice president under President Umaru Yar’adua (late).
In a book, Against The Run Of Play, written by a former Yar’Adua’s spokesman, Mr Segun Adeniyi, and to be launched today in Lagos, Chief Obasanjo confirmed that former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, was actually his first choice as Yar’adua’s running mate. But the former president said some hurdles he did not disclose in the book made that preference unrealizable.
This confirmation knocked off a statement by a former Bayelsa State governor, the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who once said in an interview that Obasanjo chose Jonathan to be Yar’Adua’s deputy in the 2007 election because he, Obasanjo, wanted to stop his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, from running for president.
“Olusegun Obasanjo told me that since Atiku and I wanted to take his job, that it would be over his dead body, and that unless he died, Atiku cannot be president of Nigeria. Obasanjo said since Atiku had picked me as his running mate, he would make sure that he dealt with and disgraced us. He said he was going to use my deputy to rubbish me before everybody.” Alamieyeseigha had told journalists.
But Obasanjo, insisting in Adeniyi’s book that the reason was far from this, said, “Of course, Jonathan was not my first choice as running mate to Yar’Adua; it was Dr. Peter Odili. But whether by fate or some conspiracy, Odili had hurdles that made it impossible for him to take that position. That was how I settled for Jonathan.” Obasanjo said in the book however that he did not do enough due diligence on
Adeniyi’s book referred to some emails dated between July 2004 and December 2011 from various American embassies which posed questions on Jonathan’s moral credentials before Obasanjo supported him.
Also explaining why he picked Yar’Adua to succeed him despite the latter’s illness, a decision that eventually produced Jonathan as president, Chief Obasanjo said Yar’adua’s response to two clarifications he posed to him convinced him that he, Obasanjo, could go ahead with his decision.
“One, the lingering doubts about his health, while the other was a very pervasive allegation that he had a manipulative wife who had too much influence on him,” Obasanjo said. He posited that Yar’adua dismissed the allegation against his wife, suggesting that some people were just jealous of their closeness. On his health, Yar’adua handed Obasanjo the medical report he sought from him.
“Not being a medical practitioner, I gave the report to a friend and renowned professional in the medical field who reviewed it and told me that the person in the report was not on dialysis, which meant either he didn’t have a kidney problem or that he had successfully undergone a kidney transplant. That was the report I had about his health,” Adeniyi quoted Obasanjo as saying.