Nigeria’s former Head of State Gen Yakubu Gowon has revealed that he and another ex-Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, were among key figures who ensured that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was not impeached by the National Assembly in 2007.
According to Gowon, Obasanjo was able to complete his tenure because he and other prominent Nigerians convinced then-Speaker, House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba, and then-Senate President, Pius Anyim, to let peace reign.
He said these at the Maj Gen Emmanuel Abisoye Foundation lecture at the University of Abuja tagged, ‘Nation Building or Nation Fragmentation: Reflections on 20 Years of Post-Military Rule in Nigeria’.
Gowon is the foundation’s Chairman, Board of Trustees.
Gowon explained that his action was informed by the need to save Obasanjo’s successors from embarrassments by the legislature.
He said if the legislature had succeeded in impeaching Obasanjo, other presidents would have suffered a similar fate.
While commenting on Na’Abba, who was also a guest on the occasion, Gowon said, “I can assure you that we had some very important discussions and I know that we had to appeal to him and the President of the Senate not to impeach Obasanjo. Of course, because of the respect they had for us, they listened to us.
“This is because if we had allowed them to impeach the President at that time of our democracy, no President in Nigeria would escape being harassed. So, I thank you very much for listening to us.
“Like me, the late Emmanuel Abisoye chose to join the Nigerian military in preference to other careers which he was eminently qualified. His achievements in his military career showed that he took the right decision to serve his country.
“As young as we were then, our ideals were not self-seeking. Rather they were focused on the growth and development of a strong, stable, viable and indivisible nation.
“As his Commander-In-Chief during the Nigerian crisis of 1967 to 1970, I found his scorecard commendable; he fought gallantly, courageously.”