By OHIA ISRAEL
Last week, Professor Osibajo was made the running mate to the All Progressive Congress, APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, for the 2015 Presidential election.
Prior to the widely held belief that former Lagos State governor and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was interested in becoming the running mate of General Muhammadu Buhari, he has never thought he was going to emerge as the vice presidential candidate of the APC, an online news media has reported.
However, it was gathered that the whole show put up by Tinubu was a stunt to get leaders of the party, particularly those from the South East and South South zone to accept the nomination of Osibajo as Buhari’s running mate.
According to a source, presenting Osibajo as Buhari’s running mate would have failed if Tinubu had not put up the front of wanting to become the vice presidential candidate.
The source said Tinubu had Monday flew into Abuja from Lagos to present Osibajo as his nominee for the VP slot, having been given that privilege by General Buhari to pick his choice from the south west zone.
The choice of Osibajo was agreed at a Sunday night/Monday morning meeting of APC chieftains from the South West attended by Tinubu himself and many other party leaders from the zone including the immediate past National Chairman of the party, Bisi Akande, the immediate past Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the National Convention Committee of the party, Kayode Fayemi, governors Babatunde Fashola [Lagos], Ibikunle Amosun [Ogun], Rauf Aregbesola [Osun] and Abiola Ajimobi [Oyo].
Others present at the meeting include Segun Oni [Deputy National Chairman, South], Pius Akinyelure [Vice Chairman, South West], Tajudeen Olawutan Bello [National Financial Secretary], Lai Mohammed [National Publicity Secretary], and Muiz Banire [National Legal Adviser].
However, when Tinubu got to Abuja and presented Osibajo to the enlarged house of the party leaders, he was out rightly rejected by leaders from the South South zone.
But Tinubu who had already sensed that the choice of Osibajo was going to be rejected at the meeting came with a plan B. It was at this point that he indicated interest that he was going to nominate himself for the vice presidential slot, knowing well that his choice was going to be a hard nut to crack for the APC leaders.
At a follow up meeting to the last Monday night meeting in Abuja, Tinubu did not turn up. However, he sent a delegation of South West leaders of the party to inform the meeting that he is interested in picking the VP slot and that the South West has already endorsed him as their consensus candidate.
As expected, the announcement of Tinubu’s interest infuriated many of the party leaders to the extent that Governor Rochas Okorocha and Atiku Abubakar, both of them presidential aspirants that were defeated by Buhari at the presidential primaries in Lagos walked out of the meeting.
The party had earlier agreed that it was not going to field a Muslim/Muslim ticket so as not to give credit to the perception that the APC is a Muslim party. It was this position that Tinubu cashed on, leaving the party leaders with the choice of picking him, a Muslim to pair with Buhari or picking Osibajo, a Christian to pair with Buhari.
Although Monday night meeting of the party leaders that spilled into the early hours of Tuesday discussed other candidates like Governors Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole and former governor Kayode Fayemi, the party leaders were left with only two choices- Tinubu or Osibajo.
The two choices notwithstanding, party leaders from the South East and South South zone were adamant and wanted other potential candidates from the two regions to be given considerations.
But Tinubu, with the backing of leaders of the party from the South West, insisted the VP slot be given to Tinubu and since the party had decided against a Muslim/Muslim ticket, they were left with no choice but to leave the decision to General Muhammadu Buhari.
But to ensure that the party leaders do not disagree with the choice of Osibajo which had already been agreed with Buhari, the announcement was deliberately delayed, while Tinubu stepped up his game plan suggesting he is very much in the race for the VP slot.
This, according to a very reliable source, necessitated the deliberate inclusion of accusing the presidency of wanting to block Tinubu’s chances to emerge as Buhari’s running mate in the right of reply Tinubu Media Office wrote to SaharaReporters over claims that he was blackmailed by President Jonathan before the 2011.
However, a credible source told the online news medium that it was all plot to ensure that other party leaders who are opposed to the nomination of Osibajo are left with no choice if they do not want him as a Muslim on the ticket with Buhari.
While this was going on, meetings were still being held by the party leaders where Osibajo was finally accepted.
Another insider source who corroborated the information said Tinubu could not have gone to Abuja to say he was interested in the ticket when Osibajo has already been presented to leaders of the South West zone, including traditional rulers and other notable figures.
He said Tinubu as a very clever politician just had to put up that stunt so that he could get his way in the party.
Asked if the stunt is not a way of showing too much control over other leaders of the party, the source said “this is politics. He only played his game well.”
Another source said Tinubu is very much interested in the APC in sending President Jonathan packing from Aso Rock in 2015, which is why he supported the candidature of General Muhammadu Buhari whom he believed has more chances in defeating the president than any of the other four aspirants.
The source added that Tinubu with that interest would not have done anything that would give the PDP and President Jonathan a chance of remaining at the presidency in 2015.
Interestingly, Tinubu has also released a statement stating that the interest of the nation is more than that of his person, which is why he decided to back out of his nomination to be considered as the running mate to General Buhari.
The defiant posture of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors against the preferred choice of the party leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as the Presidential running mate to General Muhammadu Buhari could not achieve much as the party names Tinubu’s associate, Yemi Osibajo, as vice presidential candidate.
After days of speculations, marathon meetings and horse-trading, General Buhari has been forced to settle for the former Attorney General of Lagos State as his running mate.
The choice of Osibajo, a source close to the party said, was a concession to the former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu, who for days aggressively pushed himself forward for the vice presidential slot or his ally, Osibajo as a plan ‘B’.
Since Buhari’s emergence, the leadership of the party has met a number of times to pick his running mate before their names are submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Each of the meetings held for the purpose had ended in a deadlock.
According to sources, the leader of the party Bola Tinubu, did not only canvass the nomination of Buhari’s running mate from the South West geo-political zone, but also pushed for himself to be named for the position.
It was further gathered that Tinubu also pushed the name of a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Osibajo, through his long standing ally and former party chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, in the event that his quest to be the vice presidential candidate failed.
Some party members, it was learnt, had kicked against the Buhari-Tinubu ticket because both are Muslims.
The possible choice of either Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State or Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State could not scale through as the party chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, is from the same South-South zone as the duo.
A senior member of the party, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak, had revealed Tuesday evening that “Tinubu’s quest to be the vice presidential candidate is the dilemma the party is facing.”
Tinubu’s first choice candidate beside himself, however, was Yemi Osibajo, 55, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and University of Lagos professor of commercial law who helped rebuild the Lagos State judiciary as a national reference point as a two-term attorney-general of the state.
Osibajo is also connected to the powerful Awolowo political dynasty by marriage. He is married to the Late Chief Awolowo’s granddaughter.
Inside party sources who did not want to be named disclosed that Tinubu offered Buhari three options, namely, Osibajo, himself (Tinubu), and Babatunde Raji Fashola, the current Lagos State governor.
“In essence Tinubu, while promoting claims to his own candidature, was actually playing a wedge politics to fend off opposition to Osibajo,” an aide to the politician said.
Osibajo, is Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Pastor and the Chairman of the governing board of the Redeemer’s University.
Osibajo who is also the resident minister at the Olive Tree Redeemed Church is said to be one of the closest aides to the Church’s General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye. He has at various times been Master of Ceremony at the church’s Holy Ghost Convention and Congresses.
By the choice of Osibajo, Buhari is to run with another cleric after 2011 outing with Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly as his running mate in the presidential election.
In line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, political parties have stipulated time to submit names of their presidential and vice presidential candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has named Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as the Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Organization, which will drive the party’s efforts to win the 2015 presidential election.
In a statement issued in Lagos Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the announcement followed the hugely successful convention at which its presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, was democratically elected, and the follow-up successful choice of his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, SAN.
It said Gov. Amaechi’s outstanding reputation as a man of courage, principle, strength of character, decency and love of a country, as well as his administrative prowess and organisational skills combined to fetch him perhaps the most important task in the quest for positive change in Nigeria.
APC thanked Nigerians for their support and prayers toward the success of the convention, the emergence of Gen. Buhari as the APC presidential candidate and the choice of Prof. Osibajo as his running mate.
The party said it believed it had lived to its promise to Nigerians to ensure that the choice of its presidential running mate would be made within the context of the best democratic ideals, considering the enormously-positive reactions from the general public to the choice of Prof. Osibajo.
”With a presidential candidate that has rekindled the hopes of the citizenry and revived their belief in democratic ideals, we believe we must also choose a running mate that will complement the sterling qualities of the presidential candidate. We must confess that the choice was a tough one, considering the array of eminently-qualified and outstanding candidates that we had to choose from.
“Yes, we were spoilt for choice but, in the end, we picked as running mate a man whose pedigree, nationally, sub-regionally, regionally and globally, attests to the fact that our party, the APC, is a repository of high quality leadership materials, and that our country, Nigeria, has no shortage of the very best human resources,” it said.
APC said whether in the academic, legal or ecclesial world, Prof. Osibajo stands much taller than his physical frame, and serves as a good accompaniment to our presidential candidate, himself a man of such rare sterling qualities that have stood the test of time, qualities that are now so sorely lacking in our country’s leadership.
”Our presidential running mate is an award-winning professor of law, a legal luminary, a gentleman, a much-sought-after public speaker, a tested administrator, an author and a man of great ecclesiastical standing.
”Educated in Nigeria and the UK, Prof. Osibajo is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who has served in many organisations and professional bodies in Nigeria, West Africa, Africa and the United Nations. He has authored or edited over a dozen publications, has taught and practised law at the high levels, and has served on the Editorial Boards of learned publications and non-legal publications, in addition to publishing many articles in learned journals.
”Now that we have presented Nigerians with the best possible choices for the exalted positions of President and Vice President, we expect that citizens, who have been yearning for quality leadership, will use their voting power to put Nigeria firmly on the path of greatness. A country seeking to be among the greats in the comity of nations cannot afford to have a mediocre leadership,” the party said.