Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Wednesday that he chose the late former President Umaru Yar’ Adua as his successor because the others, who wanted the post, were corrupt.
Obasanjo said one of the people who wanted to succeed him in 2007 was “stinkingly corrupt” and that the only way he (Obasanjo) could justify himself before man and God was to go for Yar’Adua, who, he said, was the only one among the contenders then who was not corrupt.
The former President, who spoke in an interview with a private television station, Channels Television, in Abeokuta, did not mention the ‘corrupt’ Yar’Adua rivals.
Among the prominent presidential hopefuls in the Peoples Democratic Party in 2007 were Obasanjo’s deputy, Abubakar Atiku; and ex-Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili.
Atiku later abandoned the PDP to contest the presidential election on the platform of the defunct Action Congress while Odili’s ambition fizzled out with the nomination of Yar’Adua.
The AC later metamorphosed into the Action Congress of Nigeria, which later merged with the Congress for Progressive Change and the All Nigeria Peoples Party to form the now ruling All Progressives Congress.
Obasanjo’s choice of successor died on May 5, 2010 from heart-related ailments. Many condemned Obasanjo for choosing a man who was manifestly sick to lead the country.
But in the Channels interview, Obasanjo said he only acted based on the information made available to him.
He said, “Even if you take your son as your successor, you are not sure of what he will do when he gets there. Don’t ever kid yourself.
“What do I know about any successor? What he presents. When he gets there, he presents it differently.
“We did our best, but if you say our best is not good enough, I will say, when it comes to your turn, do better.
“With all the people who are available as successor, what we came up with was about the best that we could think of at that time.
“One of those who wanted to do the job came to me and said, ‘Sir, I like your job, but I cannot do it the way you are doing it.’ Now, if he had told me that, should I then come and say, ‘okay, come, let me give you the job?’ He had told me that, ‘I like your job, but look, the way you are doing it, I haven’t got the stamina to do it that way.’ Then, what do you expect me to do?
“Or the one that I know that, oh!, this one, before he gets the job, he’s stinkingly corrupt. Now will I be able to defend myself before God and man if, with what I know, I give this job or I encourage the man to have this job?”