A former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) has reacted to an age long allegation that his administration imposed former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired general on Nigeria in 1999.
Abdulsalami claimed he never wanted to be in power for more than six months because he believed they could not throw all that sweat expended to keep Nigeria as one during the civil war away.
In an interview, Abdulsalami dismissed such thought, narrating how Obasanjo visited him shortly after his release and sought his advice on going into politics.
Abdulsalami said in order to ensure that Nigeria did not break up, they restore the dignity to the military and the status quo where seniority and nationalism abide by giving the civilians what they wanted.
Abdulsalami, who is Chairman of the National Peace Committee said he advised Obasanjo to disregard the people, rather go home and sort out his health.
He insisted that he had nothing to do with Obasanjo’s participation in the poll that brought him to power in 1999.
“He (Obasanjo) came to see me to tell me that he had been approached by this group of people, they want to make him the candidate to stand for election.
“I said ‘Sir, if I were you, please disregard this people, Sir. Go home and rest and sort your health out and so on and so forth’
Abdulsalami also said upon his advise to the former president, Obasanjo said, “ ‘Okay, General thank you for your advice, I will get back to you’ ”. He never got back to me. The next I hear was that he was one of the presidential candidates.
“I tried to tell people that I had nothing to do in bringing Obasanjo to contest the election. Whatever must have happened was within the political parties and so on.
“When asked whether he ‘rehabilitated’ Obasanjo to allow him contest in the election, he responded, “Like I had all other prisoners! What do you mean by I had to rehabilitate him?
“Well I am thinking of his businesses, whether he was helped with something to revive them which was one of his complaints.
“Of course not only him, all people that were imprisoned in one way or the other, we tried to rehabilitate them; to help them in one way or the other. In one way or the other we did what we could to assist them, so you cannot equate that to bringing him to contest for an election.”