Buhari Threatened To Step Down As Presidential Candidate If Tinubu Insisted On Being VP

Call it the many nights of long knives, it still
may not sufficiently
capture the intrigues, betrayals, sellouts and
drama that typified the
various meetings which ultimately
culminated in the choice of a former
Attorney-General and Commissioner for
Justice in Lagos State,
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as the All
Progressives Congress (APC)
deputy to the presidential standard-bearer of
the party, Major-General
Muhammadu Buhari.
With barely 24 hours to the Independent
National Electoral Commission
(INEC) deadline for the submission of names
of candidates by political
parties, the name Osinbajo, which had been
making the rounds as the
alternative choice, finally got the official
stamp of approval of the
general to run with him on the party’s ticket.
Practically all but the last meeting convened
for the choice of a running
mate for Buhari had failed for one reason: the
reported interest of a
former governor of Lagos State and one of
the national leaders of the
party, Bola Tinubu, who made a poor show of
concealing his desire for
the job.
At each of those meetings, Tinubu, who
yesterday said he turned down
Buhari’s offer to be his running mate, was
said to have made the
emergence of a generally acceptable choice
that excluded him
impossible.
For Tinubu, party sources alleged that he saw
his probable ascension to
the vice-presidency as an opportunity to be
“compensated” for his
incontrovertible role in the establishment of a
strong and viable APC, a
move other members of the party, including
the governors, had opposed
on the grounds that he would be a hard sell
to the Nigerian public.
To exemplify his all-consuming desire for the
job, Tinubu was said to
have attended one of the meetings with the
South-west leaders of the
party last weekend and told his audience a
story of how Buhari had
agreed to field him as his running mate.
According to him, all he needed was the
consent of those at the meeting
in writing, in order to convince the retired
general that he (Tinubu) also
had the support of the South-west caucus to
emerge as his running mate.
Ostensibly, however, he was purported to
have conjured the story
following the honour accorded him by Buhari
to choose the running mate
and put himself forward for the position. But
this, a majority of those at
the meeting saw through, compelling one of
governors to say if his
statement was true, “Buhari has picked
you,then you don’t need our
signatures to get our support”.
Unfortunately for him, some of those at the
meeting were uncomfortable
with the fact that he wanted to get them to
sign a communiqué, which he
would have taken to Buhari, informing him
that his people in the South-
west, majority of whom are governors, had
asked that he be fielded as
the vice-presidential candidate. In Tinubu’s
estimation, the story would
have been difficult to refute in order not to
embarrass him nor put the
party in a fix.
When it became clear to Tinubu that his
people had effectively opposed
his emergence as Buhari’s deputy, he
reportedly broke down in tears,
moaning that their stance would render him
insignificant in the scheme
of things if he was neither allowed the
opportunity to field himself nor
present a candidate of his choice.“We told
him frankly: ‘Look, we love
you as our oga but Nigerians don’t.’ We told
him we could not sell him
because one, he is a Muslim and two, other
issues might emerge from the
woodworks that could be embarrass him and
the party.“When it suddenly
dawned on him that his goal was slipping
from his grasp, he broke down
in tears,” alleged a source, who also claimed
that it was at that point
everyone gave in to his demands that the
post of Buhari’s running mate
be zoned to the South-west and he should be
allowed to pick someone
else in his stead.
His despondency was further compounded
after Monday’s nocturnal
meeting where the parameters were clearly
defined for the selection of a
running mate. At this juncture, Tinubu may
have thought that he had
been completely schemed out and again
sought the understanding of the
South-west caucus of the APC to give him a
soft landing by allowing him
to decide who deputises for Buhari,
regardless of his political baggage.
With their backing, he dug deep.
So while other vice-presidential hopefuls were
being bandied as possible
running mates, Tinubu ensured that the post
of vice president never left
the South-west, and made a last ditch effort
to secure the position for
himself.
In this regard, on Tuesday, he was said to
have met with Buhari, who was
at this point at his wits end with the pressure
that had been brought to
bear on the selection of his running mate.
Buhari, during the meeting, was said to have
told Tunubu in clear terms
that he would neither run with him nor
accept a Muslim-Muslim pairing,
adding that if he pushed it too hard, he
(Buhari) might be compelled to
stand down even as the party’s
candidate.When Tinubu tried to make
Buhari see things his way, a shouting match
ensued, compelling the
general to walk out on Tinubu so that the
situation would not degenerate.
It was against this backdrop that the former
Lagos governor allegedly
rushed back to his people to push for the
emergence of Osinbajo.Seeing
that Buhari was unyielding, Tinubu and the
South-west caucus was left
with no option than to unanimously back
Osinbajo as the alternative
option who was presented to Buhariand
subsequently approved by him in
order to meet today’s deadline for the
submission of candidates’ names.
To political observers, Tinubu, with his overt
desire, covert antics and
brinksmanship, may have secured a
diminished victory. But of greater
significance, he has had a taste of what it
means to manage and square up
against the contending interests and forces
at play in a truly large
national party.In the days of yore, he could
dictate the pace and rhythm
of his more malleable, regional Action
Congress (AC) and later Action
Congress of Nigeria (ACN). With APC, he was
shown that he can no
longer pull the strings like a puppet master
behind the scenes as he
deems fit.With Osinbajo’s selection for the
number two slot, it remains
to be seen if Tinubu’s latest gamble will do
his party and Buhari’s
chances in the contest against the Jonathan/
Sambo ticket any good. In the
final analysis, the answer to this lies with the
Nigerian electorate.

1 thought on “Buhari Threatened To Step Down As Presidential Candidate If Tinubu Insisted On Being VP

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