Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Wednesday that he chose the late former President Umaru Yar’ Adua as his successor because the others who wanted to succeed him were tainted by corruption.
He 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.
Yar’Adua was serving his final term of eight years as governor of Katsina State when he was drafted into the presidential race in a surprise move by Mr. Obasanjo. The former President made this known in an interview with Channels Television, in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Among the prominent presidential hopefuls in the Peoples Democratic Party in 2007 were Obasanjo’s deputy, Abubakar Atiku and ex-Governor of Rivers State, Sir Peter Odili.
When it was glaring that Obasanjo was not favourably disposed to his deputy emerging the PDP flag bearer, Atiku turned to the defunct Action Congress, which wasted no time in handing him its presidential ticket, while Odili’s ambition was reportedly put in the cooler over weighty allegations of corruption.
Yar’Adua later went on to defeat Atiku and then Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the defunct ANPP in the 2007 presidential polls.
However, on May 5, 2010, he passed away from heart-related ailment. Many blasted Obasanjo for foisting a terminally ill man on the nation as president, despite having prior knowledge of his medical condition.
But in the Channels interview, the ex-president said he only acted based on the information at his disposal. 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 that are available for 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?”