Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that he was at one time opposed to the ambition of the Governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, to lead the state.
Obasanjo stated this in Awka, Anambra State capital, on Saturday, during an event to mark the one year anniversary of Soludo as the governor of the state.
He said he had reservations when his former Chief Economic Adviser informed him that he was interested in the governorship position in the state.
The former president, argued that Soludo was better at “something international or national” rather than becoming Anambra governor.
He said, “Because of my experience with Chukwuma, I earmarked him for something greater in my mind, until one day he came to me and said he was going to contest election as governor of Anambra. I did not disguise my anger against him.
“And I said, ‘Chukwuma, governor of Anambra, no, I see you for something national or international.’
“What is this governor of Anambra? He said to me, ‘You remember one morning when we were together and I came for morning devotion and I said let us pray for the new governor of Anambra, and I snapped and said, ‘What prayer are you making?
Obasanjo explained that his experience of Anambra then was Dr Chris Ngige and Chris Uba. “And then, you will not blame me for my reaction.”
He said Soludo reminded him of what he said on that occasion. “I said, oh yes I remember,” Obasanjo added.
Ngige, who is the current Minister of Labour and Employment, was governor of Anambra between 2003 and 2006.
“I said to Chukwuma, ‘When people like you are running away, what do you expect? Hooligans will take over, and then people like him should not complain,” he said.
He said he later told Soludo he could contest, but he should not forget he reserved him for national or international assignment. “But go for this governorship as an appetiser, then the main menu will come later. So, you are on your appetiser stage,” Obasanjo said, turning to Soludo.
He said Soludo’s performance confirmed what he said to the governor in the past.
“From what I have heard and what I have seen, you have not disappointed me and I believe you have not disappointed the people of Anambra State,” Obasanjo added.
Soludo is a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He served between 2004 and 2009, including when Obasanjo was President.