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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

2015 Presidency: Buhari chose Osinbajo despite Tinubu’s pressure

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

An authorised biography of President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed how the President chose Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as his running mate for the 2015 presidential election despite the opposition of a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

The book, ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria,’ written by Prof. John Paden, was presented at an elaborate event at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, on Monday.

The general belief was that Tinubu was instrumental to the emergence of Osinbajo, who served as his Attorney General when he (Tinubu) was the governor of Lagos State.

But according to the book, the names of Tinubu; the then Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN); and Osinbajo, were forwarded to Buhari for him to pick a running mate shortly after the retired general emerged the party’s candidate at its convention in Lagos.

The author claimed that Buhari chose Osinbajo above others despite enormous pressure from Tinubu to do otherwise.

He, however, did not disclose who forwarded the list of the three nominees to Buhari.

Paden wrote, “With Buhari coming from the North-West geopolitical zone, the Vice-Presidency had been ceded to the South-West geopolitical zone.

“Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and political ‘godfather’ of the South-West geopolitical zone, felt he should be the vice-presidential candidate.

“His protégée and the then popular Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, was also a possible candidate.

“Both Tinubu and Fashola were Muslims, which complicated the national balance.

“A third candidate, Yemi Osinbajo, had been Attorney General of Lagos State and a senior law professor and a pastor.

“When the three names were forwarded to Buhari, he chose Osinbajo despite enormous pressure from Tinubu.”

Although Tinubu was one of the four persons who reviewed the book on Monday, he did not raise any objection to the author’s claim.

While recalling how Buhari Presidency emerged, however, Tinubu had merely said Osinbajo was named Buhari’s running mate because of the need for “a religiously-balanced ticket given the sensitiveness of the moment.”

He stated, “There was the sticky issue of selecting a running mate. After careful study and discussion, it was agreed that we should field a religiously-balanced ticket given the sensitiveness of the moment.

“Based on this conclusion, the name of Yemi Osinbajo, renowned law professor and former Lagos State Attorney General during my tenure as governor, was proposed as an excellent running mate.

“Osinbajo is also a pastor in the largest church in the entire country and this would answer those who wrongfully tried to paint Buhari as intolerant.”

At the book presentation, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the special guest of honour, described the 320-page book as a mixture of history and current affairs.

Obasanjo added that the author’s account was accurate except for a few “incorrect insinuations,” which he said could be understood.

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