Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, recalled how late Afenifere and National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, Leader, late Senator Abraham Aderibigbe Adesanya, on three occasions turned down his appeal for support in the 1999 presidential poll.
According to him, Senator Adesanya was a man of principle, who never bent the rules in his undertakings.
He spoke in Lagos at a well-attended symposium entitled: ‘Leadership and The Future of Nigeria,’ to mark 10 years of Senator Abraham’s death.
Obasanjo, who disclosed that he appointed late Chief Bola Ige and Adesanya’s daughter, Modupe Adelaja, as ministers in his government without the late politician’s knowledge, said Adesanya’s opposition accounted for his poor performance in the South-West at the 1999 election.
He said: “Adesanya deserves his honour. I did not know him in his early days in politics; I came to know him when I was going into politics myself.
“Because of necessity, the path of politicians do cross, I was persuaded to contest for the post of Nigeria’s president. I decided to go on consultations and meeting leaders all over the country. One of the leaders I had to meet was Abraham Adesanya. I remember I got the address of his home, phoned him, and went around 10 pm, but he was waiting for me and received me very warmly. That was also the first time I met his daughter, Dupe, who became one of my ministers.
“When I met Pa Adesanya, he did not mince words. He said, ‘why did you come here, you are not with us? He said: ‘Iwill not support you.’ I said, ‘no problem but it must be my duty and responsibility to inform you and to let you know that I have been persuaded and I am going into this.
“As I went on consultation, I decided to call on him the second time. And again the same thing happened, he asked me, ‘what have you come here for again?’ I said, ‘I came to give you progress report’ and he asked me: ‘how is it going? and I told him it was not going badly.
“He said again he would not support me, and I said that was all right. He said, ‘whether you join us or not we are not going to support you.’
“So I left. That was the second occasion. He was consistent and to the point and I think I was adamant also.
“The third time, I came and this was just before the election. And I said to him, ‘before the election, I thought I should come to you, and again let you know how it is going.’ And for the third time, Baba said, ‘we are not going to support you.’ And of course as the result of 1999 presidential election turned out, I was not supported by the Yoruba in the South-West.”