He noted that the decision could have led to his death, The Punch reports.
Obasanjo became the president as Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999 while the current presidential flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, was his vice.
Although the former president didn't make a direct reference to Atiku in his statement, he said it was a mistake he made in good faith, but was saved by God.
Obasanjo stated this while answering questions posed by students from selected secondary schools that participated in the final of the National Exhibition and Awards organised by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship.
The event held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State, saw students from the participating schools present and exhibit some products they made.
The former president said during his interaction with the students that he had many mistakes which he could describe as genuine mistakes in his life but God made him to overcome.
He said, “One of the mistakes I made was picking my number two when I wanted to become the President. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.
“The second one was when Abacha wanted to arrest me. When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American ambassador that they would arrest me and that America had asked that I should be given an asylum. I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.
“I will say there are many things that could have been a mistake but God saved me from them all.”
Atiku Support Organisation fights back
Reacting to Obasanjo's statement, the National Publicity Secretary, Atiku Support Organisation, Dr Victor Moses, said the former President must have been joking.
Moses said the former president can't just turn around to regret choosing Atiku as his running mate.
He said, “Chief Obasanjo is fond of doing a lot of things. Sometimes, he can say things in the form of a joke and people may take it seriously and some may laugh over it.
“Don’t forget that in 2019, he endorsed Atiku for President, stating that he had forgiven him for all the misunderstanding that might have existed between them.”
In his own reaction, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, shared a video of Obasanjo endorsing Atiku in 2019 on WhatsApp with a statement, “In former President Obasanjo’s own words. Review what he said about his then Vice President. Does it look like an indictment or regret? You be the judge.
“What he said in the video was and is still valid. What he said in the video is our response. It does not sound like regret. He was paying eulogies to his then Vice President for meritorious service to him and the nation, urging that he be elevated to higher responsibilities on account of his sterling service.”
It'd be recalled that the relationship between Atiku and his principal had gone sour towards the end of their second tenure.
The situation led to Atiku leaving the PDP to join the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) where he contested and lost the 2007 presidential election.