A former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has narrated how alongside some other prominent Nigerians he saved former President Olusegun Obasanjo from being impeached by the National Assembly in 2007.
Gowon revealed this on Saturday at the Major General 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, the Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, listed others who joined him in prevailing on the National Assembly to spare Obasanjo to include another former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar; and former Head of the Interim National Government, Dr. Ernest Shonekan.
He said the move was simply to enable Obasanjo complete his tenure after the leadership of the National Assembly, led by the then President of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ghali Na’Abba, had concluded plans to remove him.
Gowon, who commended Na’Abba, also a guest at the occasion, said the action was based on 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.
He 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 for.
“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.”