Details Of How Buhari Walked Out On Tinubu Over Choice Of Vice Presidential Candidate

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 Osibajo, 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 Osibajo, 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 Osibajo.
Seeing that Buhari was unyielding, Tinubu and the South-west caucus was left with no option than to unanimously back Osibajo as the alternative option who was presented to Buhari and 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 Osibajo’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.


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria


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