Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo has dismissed claims that he deliberately foisted a sick Umaru Yar`Adua as his successor saying he checked out his medical records and discovered that he did a kidney transplant. Obasanjo said he put Yar`Adua because the kidney transplant made his kidney as good as that of a normal person.
Rebuffing claims that he deliberately allowed weak persons to succeed him to the purpose of sustaining his ascendancy in national life, Dr. Obasanjo on Sunday said Yar`Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who emerged as presidential running mate were physically and otherwise prepared for the positions.
President Obasanjo spoke in a virtual interview with the historian, Toyin Falola on Sunday.
Asked of the state of health of Yar`Adua at the time he backed him, 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 it at it because it is confidential and he said to me that from this report, this man has had a kidney transplant and it is successful, he is no longer under dialysis. And if you have a kidney transplant and it is successful, it is 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 remember 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?’ and he said, ‘I am not dead, I am 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,” the former president said.
Besides defending why he put Yar`Adua, the former president also spoke on the emergence of Dr. Jonathan as running mate.
“Now, we needed a running mate for Yar’adua. There were two possibilities – the first possibility was Peter Odili. Peter Odili was a much stronger personality than Goodluck Jonathan but Peter Odili had an EFCC issue which made him to be dropped and once he was dropped, the next man was Goodluck Jonathan and Goodluck Jonathan had all going for him. He was not a strong character as Peter Odili, I will admit that, but he was not a pushover; he had been a deputy governor, he had been a governor and his state was doing fairly well.
“I don’t know what else anybody will say because the deputy president had to come from the South and we had agreed that it would come from the South-South.”