Niyi Odebode, Godwin Isenyo and Samuel Awoyinfa
Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has said former President Olusegun Obasanjo was aware of the health challenges of his successor, the late Umaru Yar’Adua before the 2007 presidential poll.
Fayose headed the Peoples Democratic Party’s National Committee, which searched for the party’s presidential candidate in the 2007 election.
The governor, in an interview in the current edition of The Interview magazine, alleged that Obasanjo caused all the confusion in Nigeria today because he was determined to install a stooge.
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Fayose also stated that the late President told him that he was not healthy enough to become Nigeria’s president.
He said members of the PDP’s committee included a former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje; a former Kaduna State Governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi; the Senate President and ex-Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki, and a former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori.
Fayose stated that the majority of members of the committee were disposed to having Makarfi as the presidential candidate.
He added, “As a loyal Obasanjo boy then, I went to Obasanjo and told him that this committee that was set up, everybody seemed to prefer Makarfi except me and one other person and we were in the minority.
“Five out of seven governors wanted Makarfi. Then Obasanjo pointedly told me that Makarfi was too smart and would not be easily controlled by him.”
Fayose stated that after Obasanjo’s alleged third term ambition failed, the ex-President directed him to go and “sound Yar’Adua out on the ticket.”
The Ekiti State governor quoted Obasanjo as saying, “Don’t tell him I asked you to come. You just psyche him up.”
He said he met Yar’Adua in the presence of Yakubu Tanimu, who later became the late President’s economic adviser.
“I acted as directed by Obasanjo, but the man told me expressly that he was not well enough to aspire to be Nigeria’s president; that the job would be too rigorous for him.
“After much persuasion, he then told me the only condition under which he might consider running was if all stakeholders would sign up and reach an agreement to pick him as the consensus candidate because he did not want any hassle,” he added.
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He recalled that before then, Yar’Adua was usually absent from the Council of State’s meeting because of his health challenges.
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Fayose stated, “I went to tell Baba (Obasanjo) what Yar’Adua told me. On the issue of Yar’Adua’s ill health, I remember Obasanjo told me, ‘Don’t worry about his sickness; government money dey to manage his ill health.”’
He claimed that Obasanjo “used” him to wreck the presidential ambition of former Vice- President Atiku Abubakar.
He said there was a time some PDP chieftains held a meeting in the house of the then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
According to him, the meeting, which he also attended, was meant to make Atiku a presidential candidate.
Fayose said before he got to his house, Obasanjo called to challenge him for attending a meeting with Atiku.
He stated that in the morning of the following day, he went to Atiku’s house to tell him that Obasanjo was aware of their meeting.
“But no sooner did I enter Obasanjo’s office than he barked, ‘You went to Atiku’s house again this morning. If you go again, I will crush you. If you go again, I will remove you as governor’.
“Obasanjo told me that when you capture a general and you don’t kill him, he’ll come back and kill you; that since Atiku tried to stop him and failed, he must pay for it. And he (Atiku) is still paying for it,” the governor added.
The governor stated that before Obasanjo’s third-term bid became obvious, he had a soft spot for an ex-Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili.
“You will recall that Odili was the only governor in Nigeria at that time that celebrated Obasanjo’s wife, Stella, after she died during an operation in Spain and showed Obasanjo’s family love beyond measure.
“But later, when Obasanjo told me Odili was going nowhere, I contacted Odili and warned him to be wary of Obasanjo,” he stated.
Fayose, however, said Odili dismissed his warning, saying Obasanjo would not do that.
He added, “I saw Odili as a very upright man; a complete gentleman. This was because Baba (Obasanjo) was still scheming for third term, but Odili thought Baba loved him and would do everything to help him.”
The governor alleged that Obasanjo told him that a PDP chieftain, Chief Bode George, would end up in prison when there were reports that he (George) wanted to be the party’s Board of Trustees chairman.
“Obasanjo did a lot of manipulations in his desperation to become the PDP BoT chairman after the third term bid failed,” Fayose stated.
The governor added that Obasanjo betrayed former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, to induce the United States support for his third term bid, after promising Taylor a safe haven in Nigeria.
He also claimed that the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gadaffi, thwarted Obasanjo’s ambition to become the Chairman of the African Union for the third term
Attempt by The PUNCH to corroborate Fayose’s allegations from el-Rufai on Thursday failed.
The mobile of el-Rufai’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, indicated that it was not available while a response to a text message sent to the set was still been expected as of the time of filing this report on Thursday.
Also, efforts to reach the media aide to the former President, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, proved abortive on Thursday as calls to his telephone did not connect neither did he respond to the text message sent to him on Fayose’s allegations.
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