Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former head of state, has explained why he was never interested in politics after retiring from the military.
Abubakar was Nigeria’s head of state from June 9 1998 to May 29 1999, having succeeded Sani Abacha, who died in office in 1998.
The former head of state handed over power to a democratically elected president — Olusegun Obasanjo — on May 29, 1999.
He retired from the military after handing over power to Obasanjo.
Speaking on why he did not participate in politics after retirement, Abubakar, in an interview with Trust TV, said he is a “very reserved” person who does not meet some of the qualities of a politician.
“No, no! I’ve never been. Politics have never been mine. You see, there are some qualities and some characteristics that make a politician.
“Naturally I am a very reserved fellow, I don’t want any disturbance and all this trouble but others, you know they have got the flair to play politics and so I am happy and I hope even the younger generation who are retiring will also go in.
“You can see policemen, military, army officers, air force, navy and so on, are all involved in politics and the more the merrier.”
‘I DIDN’T PLAY ANY ROLE IN OBASANJO’S EMERGENCE AS 1999 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE’
Speaking further, Abubakar said he did not play any role in the emergence of Obasanjo as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999.
He said he discouraged Obasanjo after he was released from prison, not to accept the offer to become the presidential candidate of any political party.
“Of course, we released Obasanjo and other prisoners and pardoned them. So when Obasanjo was released, he came to see me, saying he was going to take the government to court,” he said.
“Why are you going to do that?” He said his business was crumbled by the military, his human rights have been violated, that he did not commit any coup and so forth.
“I said, sir, please let bygones be bygones. Thank God you are alive today, forget about these things. Some of the issues you mentioned, within my power I will look into that, so we left it at that.
“The next time he came to see me was to tell me that he had been approached by this group of people, they want to make him the candidate to stand for election.
“I said, Sir, if I were you, please disregard these people, Sir, go home and rest and sort your health out.
“He never got back to me. The next thing I heard was that he was one of the presidential candidates.
“I tried to tell people that I had nothing to do in bringing Obasanjo to contest the election. Whatever must have happened was within the political parties and so on.”