Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday said he had no regret over his decision to stop Governor Rotimi Amaechi from flying the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, flag in the April 2007 governorship elections in Rivers State.
Obasanjo, who made this knownat the Ambassador Nne Krubo Model Secondary School, Ebubu community, Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State, where he was billed to commission the institution, said his action was based on reports available to him then.
He said: “I believe I took a decision I believed was right. When I took it, I had no apology. I fast and pray to take decisions on important issues. When I have something that requires action, it must be taken otherwise I am not a worthy leader. A report came on Amaechi which indicated that there were some issues and I said yes, there are some issues, going by the report”.
It would be recalled that then President Obasanjo in a last minute move denied Amaechi, who was then Speaker of the State House of Assembly, the PDP governorship ticket during the buildup to the 2007 general election in Rivers, declaring the Ikwerre-born politician’s case as having “K-leg”.
The now popular phrase was an euphemism by Obasanjo in 2007 to describe the reason why he would not give Amaechi the governorship ticket at the time and instead handed the ticket to Sir Celestine Omehia.
He also said that at the time he was unhappy with the court verdict that declared Amaechi winner since he was not presented for elections.
“I found the judgment awkward in the sense that, how can a man who had not contested an election, was not voted for, be declared winner? I laugh about it, but kept quiet”.
The former president, however, noted that the knotty issues surrounding Amaechi’s candidature were straightened by the judgment of the Supreme Court.
“He took it to the higher court and at the Supreme Court, he won and that was the end. As far as I am concerned, the issues have been straightened out”.
Obasanjo challenged those who are not satisfied with the apex court’s verdict to take their case to the “Supreme Being”.
While commending the governor for his performance in office so far, Obasanjo pleaded with Amaechi not to blame his predecessor, Sir (Dr.) Peter Odili, for his failure to emerge the PDP flag bearer in the April 2007 general election, saying that if anyone should be held accountable, it should be him (Obasanjo).
“I want to acknowledge your courage. I phoned the governor; I hope he will remember and I said, ‘Governor Amaechi don’t take anything against your predecessor because whatever decision was taken about you, hold me responsible, not your predecessor because I was overall in charge’.
“So, if anything has been done because I took a decision that I believe is right, that I believe I should take when I took it, I have no apologies. This is because I don’t take decisions lightly”, Obasanjo said.
“When you invited me, many people said I should not come. They said for security. There is nothing more dangerous than fear. At my age what should I fear even if it is death?”
Turning to the governor, he said “If I die tomorrow, send a cow for my funeral. They told me that one road named after me was cancelled by you (Amaechi). Why should I come, they asked me? If anybody named anything after me, good luck to him. I am not working for Nigerians to name roads after me. I want my name to be in the minds and heart of people of the world, not necessarily on roads. If you invite me and I didn’t come because of the road that was cancelled, then I don’t deserve to be honoured, I will be petty”, he said.
Earlier, Amaechi said that he invited the former president to showcase what he has achieved in the past seven years, describing Obasanjo as a good leader.
The governor also noted that he got the idea of the model school from Achimota in Ghana where he took refuge while the political and legal battle surrounding his candidature was being fought.