Why I blocked Amaechi’s candidacy in 2007 — Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The former president said the ‘k-leg’ saga was informed by unfavourable reports on Mr. Amaechi.

A former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday said he has no regret for his rejection of Chibuike Amaechi as the Rivers State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2007.

The former president explained that his action was informed by a security report he received about Mr. Amaechi. He said he, therefore, had no apologies to offer for his action.

Mr. Obasanjo spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, while commissioning some projects executed by the governor.

Among the projects Mr. Obasanjo commissioned were Obasanjo Chief G. U. Make Road; Okporo Road; Elekahia/Rumuomasi Road; Ken Saro-Wiwa Road; and Songhai Farms.

While presenting flags to the six governorship candidates of the PDP in the South-South in Port Harcourt in 2007, Mr. Obasanjo declined to present the party’s flag to Mr. Amaechi, saying it had “k-leg.”

Mr. Amaechi was subsequently replaced with his cousin, Celestine Omehia, who won the governorship election.

Mr. Omehia was, however, sacked by the Supreme Court, which ruled that Mr. Amaechi was the authentic candidate of the PDP in the election. The latter was sworn in on October 27, 2007 as governor.

“As a leader, I received a security report about him which indicated that Rotimi’s candidature has a K-leg. And I took a decision. A leader must not be afraid of taking a decision,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

“I took a decision, which I think is right and I have no apologies. I don’t just rush into taking decisions. I fast and pray and ask God for wisdom and direction.”

The former president, who spoke while commissioning the Ambassador Nne Furo Kurubo Model Secondary School, Eleme, said when Mr. Amaechi was sworn in as governor, he asked him not  to do anything against Mr. Omeha.

According to him, “I commend your courage. I phoned Rotimi and asked him not to take his predicament against his predecessor. I told him to hold me responsible because as the President and leader of the party, I am the overall in charge”.

“I felt it was awkward for the court to declare a man who did not contest an election as governor. I mused over it, but did not discuss it with anyone. Rotimi then went to the Supreme Court and won and that straightened the K- leg.

“Well, anyone that is not happy with the judgment of the Supreme Court should take his matter to God, the supreme Being. For me, the K- leg matter ended with the Supreme Court.

“After serving his first term, he contested for a second term and won with a landslide. So, what K- leg are they still talking about?”

On his visit, Mr. Obasanjo, who ruled Nigeria as a democratically-elected president between 1999 and 2007, disclosed that he was invited to Rivers State for two reasons: that the state was not safe and that the street named after him in Port Harcourt had been renamed by the governor.

On security, the former president said at his age, he was not afraid to die. Turning to Mr. Amaechi, who he invited to the rostrum, Mr. Obasanjo said, “At my age, what should I fear? If I die tomorrow, Rotimi take a cow to my people for those who will come to my funeral”.

On the street name, he said, “I am not working so that roads should be named after me. I am working so things will be good for Nigerians. I work so that my name will be written in their hearts for the good things that I did for them.”

Mr. Obasanjo noted that people would describe him as being petty if he failed to honour the invitation.

He said he was not in Rivers State to play politics, but to see development. He said he was impressed with the governor’s achievement.

Mr. Obasanjo said the quality of the model schools built by the governor could compete with any tertiary institution in the world.

“If we want to train future leaders without ghetto mentality, then we have to train them in an environment such as the one we have here. But you need to build more to avoid undue competition that will lead to a situation where only the children of privileged persons are admitted,” he said.

Earlier, Mr. Amaechi explained that he invited Mr. Obasanjo to commission the projects for two reasons – to show to the political opponents of his administration that it had projects to show for his efforts and to make the former president renounce the k-leg theory if impressed by the projects.

The governor said he got the idea for the model school from Achimota in Ghana and that he had so far built 24 model secondary schools with hostels.


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