FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed how a commando operation was planned for his rescue when he was imprisoned by the late General Sani Abacha administration.
Speaking at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Memorial Lecture on the occasion of his 20th memorial anniversary in Abuja on Friday, he said his international friends contacted him in jail and the operation was planned.
But according to him, he, however, turned down the offer because he thought it would have defeated the essence of his struggle.
He also disclosed that when the Abacha government first arrested the late Major General Yar’Adua, he confronted the late Head of State who however denied knowledge of the former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters’ arrest.
Obasanjo said Yar’Adua was subsequently released but he was later rearrested along with himself (Obasanjo).
He said: “Let me say when Shehu was first arrested, I was out in South Africa and I rushed back and I asked the man who arrested him and the man who arrested him said to me that he did not know that Shehu has been arrested.
“And I said ‘Mr. Head of State, there’s no way the Number Two man in this country at one time will be arrested without the knowledge of the current number one man.
“Soon after that, Shehu was released but he was released only for a short while.
“When he was arrested the second time, I was arrested along with him and we were in separate locations.
“But after our destinies or the verdicts had been given about what would happen to us, we met in Kirikiri. I believe that was a mistake because that was the last time we actually stayed together.
“We had about three nights but we were able to speak and think and work together even in prison, a maximum prison in Kirikiri.
“Even in prison, we strategized. Unfortunately, our strategy did not work.
“But when Shehu died in prison, my international friends decided that they would use a commando plan to get me out of prison and they actually made the plan, raised the money and their plan was to get a helicopter to get me out of prison and take me into Cameroon.
“They sent a message to me and I said if you do, I will not get out of prison.
“And that was when they dropped the idea of using commando effort to get me out of prison. Because that would have defeated what we stood for.
“We stood for Nigeria and we stood to face whatever consequences standing for Nigeria would cost us. It cost Shehu Yar’Adua his life.”
Obasanjo said the only thing those who believe in Yar’Adua could do was to ensure that his struggle continued.
Also speaking at the event, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, extolled the virtues of the late Yar’Adua and also appealed to his admirers to ensure that his dreams do not die.
In his remark contained in a stated issued by his media office in Abuja on Friday, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, revealed how late Yar’Adua inspired him with his extraordinary courage and organizational and mobilization skills.
Paying tribute to “the soldier, politician and democracy martyr,” the Waziri Adamawa said he was inspired by the courage of conviction of the late Katsina General.
Atiku described Shehu Yar’Adua as a fearless politician who was not ready to compromise his principles at the expense of the cause he was fighting.
He noted that, although Yar’Adua was a military man, his passion for democracy was amazing and his courage extraordinary.
Atiku also explained that Yar’dua’s patriotism and commitment to Nigeria’s unity and peaceful coexistence was one of the remarkable virtues that attracted him to the Katsina General.
According to him was not a timid Democrat who abandoned his beliefs because of fear or opportunistic reasons for political survival.
Atiku explained that, during the 1994/95 National Constitutional Conference, General Yar’Adua was among the few voices that had told General Sani Abacha not to stay longer than one year in office and prepare a transition programme within the shortest time frame.
He said Yar’dua’s position turned out to be inconsistent with General Abacha’s hidden agenda, that from that moment, Yar’adua’s became a marked man.
Former Vice President said the mentorship of Yar’Adua is enduring to his political life especially as it relates to the unity of Nigeria and the promotion and defence of its.
Describing Yar’Adua as a man of excellence, the Waziri Adamawa said that the former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters deserved a unique place in the pantheon of Nigeria’s democratic heroes.