By Niyi Odebode, Adelani Adepegba, Ifeanyi Onuba and Afis Hanafi
A National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has alleged that Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, worked against the plan to make him President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in the 2015 presidential election.
Tinubu stated that Saraki, El-Rufai and other stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party, who defected to the APC in the build-up to the 2015 elections, instigated Buhari and some APC chieftains not to pick him as the would-be Vice-President.
The APC leader’s comments were contained in a book titled ‘Against the Run of Play,’ written by the Chairman, Editorial Board of ThisDay, Olusegun Adeniyi.
Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State, said his opponents persuaded Buhari to look for another running mate on the grounds that Christians in the North would not embrace a Muslim-Muslim ticket, and as such, could jeopardise the party’s victory.
The former governor said the arguments put forward by the party members were not genuine, adding that El-Rufai had the intention to ensure the emergence of the Serving Overseer of The Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Buhari’s running mate.
Tinubu added, “What they (Saraki and others from the PDP) did behind my back was wrong. We always do things as a group. By the time they joined, we were already too far ahead in our processes but we accommodated them.
“We agreed to take their state structures and subsume them into the part and they all had their opportunity to nominate the candidates of their choices for different political offices.
“But they went behind to instigate Buhari and some other people in the party against me on the pretext of religion. That was not right. They were canvassing arguments that the Christians in the North would not vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“Nasir el-Rufai was also selling the same argument within the CPC (the defunct Congress for Progressive Change) because at that point, he still wanted to have Pastor Bakare brought in as Buhari’s running mate.”
Tinubu stated that some senators and governors then, who defected from the PDP to the APC, met with him on the eve of the primaries to know if there was an agreement between him and Buhari to run together.
He said he evaded the inquiry, which compelled the allies to join him in canvassing for Buhari as the right presidential candidate of the party.
“I told them that it was better to resolve such issue after the primaries, but they wanted to make it a condition for supporting Buhari, which, for me, was very wrong. I told them I could not insist on this as a condition for my support for Buhari. I felt that was not right to hold Buhari hostage in this manner.
“I believe the support that we gave was fundamental to Buhari clinching the party nomination. Without that support, a different outcome would have been most likely,” Tinubu added.
He noted that Buhari later requested him to nominate three persons for the job, but he (Tinubu) presented only Yemi Osinbajo as his ultimate choice.
“I backed down because I did not want to be depicted as causing a problem. I backed away from the position in order to offer Buhari a name I once raised with him in 2011: that of Professor Yemi Osibanjo,” he added.
2015 election, outcome of Nigerians will, US replies to Jonathan
Meanwhile, the United States, on Wednesday, declared that the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 was the expression of the will of Nigerians.
The US government said this in response to allegations by Jonathan that his electoral defeat in the 2015 election was partly caused by former US President Barack Obama and his officials.
He alleged that the US worked with France and the United Kingdom to frustrate his failed re-election bid in 2015.
“The US advocated a free, fair and transparent election. The election outcome was an expression of the will of the Nigerian people,” the US embassy spokesman, Russel Brooks, said on Wednesday.
I advised Jonathan against appointing Diezani petroleum minister – Obasanjo
Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo claimed he advised ex-President Goodluck Jonathan against giving Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke a critical portfolio.
The ex-President stated that there were decisions taken by Jonathan early in his administration that showed that the Presidency was too big for him.
According to him, one of such decisions was the appointment of Alison-Madueke as the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“He (Jonathan) gave me the impression that he was not going to give her the portfolio (petroleum ministry), but at the end, he did and we can see the consequences. He, of course, knew what he was doing,” he stated.
‘In 2011, I pleaded with prominent northerners to let Jonathan run for a term’
Obasanjo also explained why he supported Jonathan to contest the 2011 presidential election.
He said he pleaded with prominent people in the North to allow Jonathan run for a term.
The former President explained that he met with many northern leaders to explain to them why he endorsed Jonathan for the 2011 presidential election.
Obasanjo stated, “I saw the emergence of Jonathan as an opportunity to solve the problem of minority agitation. The three majority ethnic groups in Nigeria can always sort themselves out, but not so for the minority.
“A good example is my state here in Ogun. Despite the best intentions, nobody from Ogun West has been able to become governor because of this minority issue and it will take a conscious effort to make it happen. So, it was in that contest that I had to plead with prominent people in the North to allow Jonathan run for a term.”
US not comfortable with Jonathan as Yar’Adua’s successor
The book also stated that there were indications that the United States was not comfortable with Jonathan as a successor of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
These facts emerged from WikiLeaks’ publications of the US Department of State memos.
The book cited a memo, dated December 1, 2009, written by the then US Ambassador, Robin Sanders.
“Dark rumours about Yar’Adua’s health have given way to broad fears that Yar’Adua is likely entering his final days,” it stated.
Giving its verdict on the then Vice-President Jonathan, the US embassy wrote, “We are preparing a report (septel) on the baggage that Jonathan will carry with him into the state House as there have been past reports of corruption, political thuggery and payments to ‘militant factions’ from his days as Governor of Bayelsa State as well as questions about his competency in general.”
The US embassy cable, according to the book, also cited $13.5m allegedly seized by the EFCC from Jonathan’s wife, Dame Patience.