Speaking at the 7th annual
“They said I connived and conspired my way into the VP seat. They lied so easily that it was the price I extracted from General Buhari to support his bid. If not, I would destroy the party on the altar of my ambitions", said Tinubu.
“They were wrong. I pulled myself out of contention. The very brilliant and capable became our VP candidate. A man of integrity and impeccable character. Alas, this sent Jonathan’s henchmen into disarray. In the quiet of their private closet, even they could see clearly enough through the darkness of their own hearts to recognize that our ticket was so much better than theirs,” the Jagaban of Borgu (as he's fondly called by admirers) added.
To be fair, there was nothing wrong with Tinubu lobbying to be Nigeria's Vice President. The position was there for the taking and he had worked his socks off in forging the alliance that gave birth to the then opposition APC.
Tinubu is allowed some ambition like all of humanity.
As Governor of Lagos, Tinubu made sure the nation's commercial capital wasn't dragged into the PDP under Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who railroaded the South West with 'Amala and Gbegiri' politics. Tinubu stopped Obasanjo in his tracks and adroitly so.
To his credit, Lagos, with its near 20 million population, remained under the AD and then the AC, ACN. Tinubu was pivotal in ensuring most of the South West remained under the 'progressives' canopy well into the 2015 electoral contests.
Tinubu's school of politics also produced class, cerebral acts in Babatunde Fashola, Kayode Fayemi, Adams Oshiomhole, Rauf Aregbesola and Akinwunmi Ambode, among a host of others.
The aforementioned have gone on to hold their own in Nigeria's present political and administrative firmament. They all are some of APC's shining lights at the moment.
It is said of Tinubu that he's got an eye for spotting and tapping talent; and it's difficult to argue with that assertion on the basis of some of the administrators he's sired.
Therefore, with the APC on the cusp of winning its first presidential election last year, Tinubu had every right to stake a claim to the Vice Presidential slot after Buhari had emerged the standard-bearer.
However, as the allegations regarding his interest as Buhari's number two man picked up steam last year, Tinubu and his camp denied he nursed a Vice Presidential ambition. The Jagaban was quick to tell anyone that he sacrificed his ambition for the good of the APC.
Talk of good, old altruism.
Except that that wasn't the true picture, we've now found out.
New revelations have emerged to the effect that Tinubu's version of events may not be the entire story or the true picture of what transpired.
A new book titled ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria,’ by Professor John Paden, suggest Tinubu not only desperately lobbied to be Buhari's running mate prior to the election, he was also vehemently opposed to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo's consideration for the position.
The book was launched in Abuja on Monday, with Tinubu, Buhari and other top APC faithful like the party's embattled chairman, John Oyegun, in attendance.
Here's the author's account of events:
"With Buhari coming from the North-West geopolitical zone, the Vice-Presidency had been ceded to the South-West geopolitical zone.
"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."
What this tells us is simple: the presidential ticket had to have religious balance like everything else in Nigeria, to have any chance of flying.
With Buhari, Tinubu and Fashola being Muslims, the APC would have shot itself in the foot politically by fielding the duo, even before the first ballot was cast in anger.
During the book launch, Tinubu admitted as much: "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."
It was only on the basis of this, then, that Tinubu must have considered himself out of the running, albeit grudgingly.
Enter Yemi Osinbajo--relatively young, a cerebral law professor, member of the clergy and looking the part. For many, once his name came up for vetting as Buhari's possible running mate, there should have been no debate.
Paden's book however tells us that Tinubu wasn't sold on Osinbajo and that Buhari made the Osinbajo choice in spite of Tinubu's resistance:
"Buhari chose Osinbajo despite enormous pressure from Tinubu", not to do so, Paden wrote.
Osinbajo had stated during a separate event earlier in the week, that he became Vice President only because God interferred.
“It has begun to show and surely there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel", said Nigeria's Vice President.
All of that "Jagaban didn't want to be Vice President or he would have gotten it" grandstanding from Tinubu's supporters, should be buried and eternally so.
Conclusion: Tinubu wanted the Vice Presidency gig and he had every right to throw his hat into the ring. But coming forward to say he never wanted the job from the outset, was really beyond the pale--even for him.