At the time, Tinubu was certain that Buhari had his own agenda.
When the APC was setting out its stall to unseat the PDP, ahead of the 2015 presidential election, Bola Tinubu became so frustrated with President Muhammadu Buhari for reneging on previous agreements, according to ex-Osun Governor Bisi Akande who was in the room and was part of the negotiations.
Akande is a former interim national Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In his autobiography titled: “My Participation”, Akande writes that Buhari promised that Tinubu was going to be his running mate in the 2015 election and then went back on that agreement–a move that visibly riled Tinubu.
ThisDay has been publishing excerpts from the book.
“In April 2014, I was in Abuja when Buhari called me and asked me to persuade Bola to run with him. Governor Masari was the one who came to call me. When I followed him into Buhari’s private lobby, Bola Tinubu was already seated there,” writes Akande.
“So, when Buhari tabled the matter, I cautioned them that this must not get out beyond the four of us. ‘How could he be talking of a running mate when he had not secured the ticket?” I mused.
“I thought such information, if leaked to the general public, might affect the conduct of the party’s congress at the presidential primaries, if not its choice of candidate. I thanked Buhari for thinking so highly of our friend.
“Bola later told me that Buhari’s emissaries had been coming to him, but he tried to dodge the gesture and not to show interest. We agreed that we would reopen the matter when Buhari had secured the ticket,” he adds.
Akande says he was taken aback when Buhari was given a list of potential vice presidential picks, after assuring Tinubu that the position was his for the taking.
Akande writes that it was Odigie Oyegun, who was supported by Tinubu to emerge chairman of the party, who asked for names from the geopolitical zones from where Buhari was going to pick a running mate.
“He said it was from this list that Buhari would choose a running mate. I objected. I turned to Buhari. ‘General, where are you choosing your running mate from?’ He answered, ‘The South-west.’ ‘Oh! I didn’t know,’ Oyegun said. He apologised.
“I didn’t know why Oyegun made that proposition and at whose behest. As the chairman of the party, maybe some people pushed him to do that,” Akande says.
Akande continues: “Then, I called Buhari aside. ‘Is our arrangement still standing?’ I referred him to our discussion in April. He said yes!”
After one Elders’ Committee meeting which ended in a deadlock, Buhari put a phone call across to Tinubu to hand him three names from where he would pick a running mate.
A startled Tinubu discussed Buhari’s latest move with Akande immediately.
“We were all in Abuja and Tinubu rushed to me with this information. He wanted to know whether the understanding we reached with Buhari had changed. I called Buhari and he told me he now needed three names from us. I was angry with him.
‘‘General, this was not what we agreed upon,’ I said in annoyance. ‘You are changing our agreement?’ He knew I was getting angry.
“He said he was under pressure from some governors from the north, including those who were Muslims. I told him the slot belonged to the South-West and among the Yoruba, religion is not a factor in leadership,” he writes.
Akande adds that: “Oshiomhole was surprised about the narration. ‘If indeed you promised to make Asiwaju your running mate, it would not be fair to renege,’ he said. Buhari now said he never meant it that way. What he meant originally was that Tinubu should partner with him.”
Safe in the knowledge that he was no longer in the running for a vice presidential slot, a frustrated Tinubu told Akande that he was leaving Abuja for Lagos: “I don’t want to be part of whatever you are discussing now, ‘he said. ‘I don’t trust Buhari anymore!
“Even if we give him names, he may decide to go outside the list. So, let him choose on his own. He was unhappy with Buhari.
“I told him that was not the attitude to adopt. We were trying to toy with some names and I wanted him to participate in the discussion. After some time, Amosun, Aregbesola and I were considering some names. Then I decided to call Tinubu again.
‘We negotiated with Buhari in 2011 and gave him a name to choose instead of Pastor Bakare,’ I spoke to Tinubu on phone. ‘Who was that person?’ l asked.
‘It was Yemi Osinbajo,’ Tinubu declared.
“I asked Aregbesola to find out where Osinbajo was. He called him on the phone. ‘Yemi, where are you?
‘Don’t you know your case is coming up tomorrow?’ ‘l am in Abuja to argue your case.’ Osinbajo answered at the other end. ‘Which hotel are you staying?” Osinbajo inquired.
“I got a blank sheet of paper and wrote Yemi Osinbajo on it. I instructed Amosun and Aregbesola to deliver that note to Buhari immediately. It was almost midnight. Then the two of them left.”
He continues: “I was waiting for Buhari to call me after he must have received my message. He did not. It was Tinubu who came to me at the wee hours of the morning. He was not in a good mood and was worried that Buhari might visit our efforts with bad faith.
“Let us go back to Lagos”, he said. Why? I asked. “Maybe Buhari has his own agenda,” he said. Even if we give him a name , he might not use the person. Maybe he just wants to use us for whatever his agenda might be.”
“I reassured him that Buhari will not disappoint us and that he would agree with our choice as the vice presidential candidate of our party.”
Osinbajo would go on to become Buhari’s running mate in the 2015 and 2019 presidential contests.
Most of the political heavyweights who participated in the discussions of the period, have said Tinubu was ruled out because the APC didn’t think it was going to win a nationwide election with a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Like Buhari, Tinubu is a practising Muslim from Nigeria’s southern region.
By Jude Egbas
Source: The Pulse