Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday said he knew that former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was ill, but had been certified medically fit before he emerged as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2007 general elections.
He said he got medical advice that Yar’Adua, who had a kidney transplant, was fit to run as President.
Obasanjo responded to questions in a virtual interview with a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies, Toyin Falola.
Falola had asked Obasanjo to respond to allegations of imposing the Late Yar’dua despite knowing his health status.
Obasanjo described the allegations as “absolute and total nonsense,” asking: “How? For the like of me… should I deliberately weaken the country that I fought for? The country of my birth. The country I want to be great.”
He said: “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’s confidential and he told me that from this report, this man had had a kidney transplant and it’s successful, he’s no longer under dialysis.
“And if you have a kidney transplant and it’s successful, it’s 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 remembered 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?’ He said, ‘I’m not dead, I’m 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’ve done in that position was not right, I leave him in the hands of God.”
Speaking on former President Jonathan, Obasanjo said after Yar’Adua’s emergence as a candidate; the party was left with two choices: between Jonathan and Peter Odili.
However, he said Jonathan was picked over Odili, who had an alleged corruption case with the EFCC.
Obasanjo admitted that Jonathan was not a strong character compared to Odili.
“Goodluck Jonathan had all that was working for him. He was not as strong a character as Peter Odili. I would admit that, but he was not a pushover,” he said.