Former military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon on Saturday went down the memory lane, revealing how he and other prominent Nigerians saved Chief Olusegun Obasanjo from impeachment by the National Assembly during his second term as president.
He named General Abdulsalami Abubakar and Chief Ernest Sonekan, both of them ex-heads of state, as some of the other eminent Nigerians involved in saving Obasanjo from getting the sack. It took them some effort to convince the then Senate president Pius Anyim and House of Representatives Speaker Ghali Na’Abba to drop the impeachment plot in the national interest.
Gowon 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”, a foundation where he serves as the Chairman, Board of Trustees.
The former Head of State said his action was informed by the need to save Obasanjo’s successors from recurring embarrassments by the legislature.
According to Gowon, if the action of the legislature to impeach Obasanjo was allowed to be implemented, those who succeeded him would have faced a similar fate.
While commenting on Na’Abbah,who was also a guest at 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 and 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, Late Emmanuel Abisoye chose to join the Nigerian military in preference to other careers which he was eminently qualified. His achievements in the 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.”