Former Education Minister and ex-Vice President of the World Bank (Africa division), Obiageli Ezekwesili, has corroborated Pastor Tunde Bakare’s account of how she turned down the offer to become President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate ahead of the 2011 presidential election.

Bakare who is the Senior Pastor of the Citadel Global Community Church, had narrated how he became Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 election on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

Pastor Tunde Bakare is a friend of President Buhari. They ran on the same ticket in 2011 (Punch)
Pastor Tunde Bakare is a friend of President Buhari. They ran on the same ticket in 2011 (Punch)

According to Bakare, it was Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) who convinced him to run on the same ticket with Buhari.

Buhari, Bakare relayed, had put a phone call across to him, requesting for a running mate from the south of Nigeria because it was going to be doubly difficult to win a national election without a diverse ticket.

Bakare said he recommended current Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Oby Ezekwesili, serial Lagos State governorship contestant Jimi Agbaje, and current Minister of Trade and Industry Niyi Adebayo to Buhari as possible vice presidential picks.

Everyone on the list had also been sufficiently vetted and deemed to have ticked most of Buhari's boxes.

Oby's refusal

While Agbaje was soon taken off the shortlist, Ezekwesili, who Adeboye had helped Bakare contact, refused to run with Buhari.

“But Pastor Adeboye told me he (Buhari) would need a strong Christian to be his running mate.

Oby Ezekwesili is co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls advocacy group (Guardian)
Oby Ezekwesili is co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls advocacy group (Guardian)

"I said to him that Oby is strong too; he said no, that she must not leave certainty for uncertainty because she was working at the World Bank then,” Pastor Bakare said during an interview he granted Sun newspaper.

Bakare accepts

Buhari would go on to insist that he wanted the greatest grassroots mobiliser from the south-west geopolitical region as his running mate and “on January 15, 2011, at 12 noon, my phone rang, it was Buhari. He said, Pastor, I had prayed the way I know how to pray, and I want you to pray also, I want you to be my running mate.

“I said to him…that I will never seek an elective office or join a political party. He said I should pray about it and call him back in seven hours. I didn’t call him.

Pastor Tunde Bakare paid President-elect Buhari a congratulatory visit in 2015 (Presidency)
Pastor Tunde Bakare paid President-elect Buhari a congratulatory visit in 2015 (Presidency)

“I called Pastor Adeboye and informed him. He said that was it and that he already said Buhari needs a strong Christian and that I am the man and I must go there.

“I consulted across the board and I signed on at the last day to become his running mate. Of course, we didn’t win the election,” Bakare said.

Oby's version

In a couple of tweets, Ezekwesili corroborated Bakare’s version of events. She said she wasted no time turning down Buhari’s offer.

“Many People: Please tell us, is it true you actually rejected the offer to be vice presidential candidate to Buhari as Pastor Bakare said?

“Me: Yes it is true. Any more questions?

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (left) and President Muhammadu Buhari (right) have worked together since 2015  [Presidency]
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (left) and President Muhammadu Buhari (right) have worked together since 2015 [Presidency]

“I laughed at the many messages people sent me upon reading Bakare’s factual statement that I rejected running as VP with Buhari in 2011. I did not waste a moment in saying No.

“It is why I have always pitied those who spend their years lying against me. Next please!” Ezekwesili shared.

Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP won the 2011 presidential election with 22 million of the votes cast. Buhari garnered 12 million votes.

On February 6, 2013, Buhari’s CPC joined forces with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and factions of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Buhari defeated Jonathan in the 2015 presidential contest from the platform of the APC, with Osinbajo--from the same RCCG stock--as his vice presidential candidate.

And the rest is history.