The National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday explained how Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) emerged Vice President.
According to him, Osinbajo was a product of religious balancing which became an issue in last year’s presidential election.
This is even as he said President Muhammadu Buhari may be slow, but he is steady, especially now that he is older and given his experience.
Tinubu spoke yesterday during the launch of a book; “Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria”, written by John Paden, a professor of International Studies. The event was held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. He was one of the reviewers.
Tinubu noted that Paden succinctly explained the transition from the Buhari in uniform to one in civilian garb.
He notes that in terms of style of leadership, “Buhari, as a young military Head of State, was in a hurry. However, now that he is older and given his experience, he is ‘slow, but steady’ in his approach to governance.”
Tinubu noted that the choice of Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate in the 2015 presidential election proved that the President was not intolerable to religious difference as it was insinuated.
“There was the issue of selecting a running mate and after a careful study and discussion, it was agreed that we should fill the religious balance ticket, given the sensitivity of the moment,” he said.
“Based on this conclusion, the name of a renowned professor, Yemi Osinbajo, the professor of Law and former Lagos State Attorney-General during my time as governor was proposed and accepted as running mate.
“Osinbajo was also a pastor in the largest church in the country, this is for those trying to paint Buhari as intolerant religious leader,” Tinubu said.
“During the campaign, he (Buhari) surprised many by his agility and the broad canvass on which he operated,” he said.
“In tracing the evolution of Buhari, the national leader said Paden’s assertion that military rule is based on the power its holders can wield, while civilian rule is based on the legitimacy derived from elections, is a point with which I dare not debate.
“Buhari’s career embodies this, hence, his transition from being a military ruler to being a civilian leader, who subjected himself to the rigours and uncertainty of elections four times. Thrice, he patiently went to court seeking redress from electoral manipulation.
The author, quite accurately, remarked on the Buhari victory equation, as flowing from Northern grassroots support and coalition-building with the South West as well as with other tendencies.”
In retrospect, the former Lagos State governor regretted the failed merger of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), his party, and the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), Buhari’s party, saying: “In forming the ‘new’ party, we had three challenges.
“The first was learning the right lessons from the aborted attempt at political cooperation in 2011. Fortunately, both the ACN and CPC regretted our inability to conclude a pact in 2011.
“We agreed that there would be no recrimination over what did not happen before. We agreed there would be an intensified effort to forge the united effort that eluded us in 2011.
“In 2011, both parties wanted cooperation, but became stuck whether that should take the form of an alliance or outright merger. This difference gave rise to another one, regarding how the vice presidential candidate, who would run with the presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, would be selected.
“Despite numerous good-faiths demonstrated in attempts to resolve these issues, time ran out on finding a solution. In retrospect, we all were perhaps a bit too inflexible and did not realize the extent to which cooperation and flexibility were needed to establish the reform we all wanted.
“The result: each party went its own way in 2011. However, the talks of 2011 would foreshadow the discussions, beginning in 2013, which led to the successful merger forming the APC.”
Earlier, Tinubu and the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun met for the first time yesterday, eight days after the former wrote letter accusing the latter of carrying out a coup during the September 3, 2016 Ondo State governorship primary of the party. In fact, Tinubu urged Odigie-Oyegun to resign over alleged anti-party activities.
Both leaders sat side-by-side, while emissaries took turns in conferring with the APC national leader, perhaps appealing to him to take things easy as regards the recent happenings in the party.
Rather than use the occasion to settle their differences, the two leaders tactically avoided each other.
At the event, Odigie-Oyegun and Tinubu were invited to the podium for the presentation of the book. With Odigie-Oyegun on the far left, at least five persons separated him from Tinubu.
At the end of the presentation, the chairman walked past Tinubu before exchanging handshakes with other guests, including former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
Chairman of the book launch and former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, said Buhari deserves every word of praise and criticism. He described Buhari as a fighter and a man of destiny, adding that as a young officer, he did so well within and outside Nigeria that he was recognised both within and internationally, “and that is why he catapulted to the top within a shortest possible time.
“As a combat politician, he fought to take over the Villa despite being told he will never see it”, adding that he has been doing his best to get things going and the suffering of the people alleviated.
In his remarks, the Special Guest of Honour, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, described Buhari as an upright man, adding that the book confirmed what he knew about Buhari and what he has been told about him.
Obasanjo described Buhari as a man of integrity.
Speaking on his 2003 election and that of his anointed candidate and successor, the late Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua, during which Buhari contested and lost, Obasanjo said, “President Muhammadu Buhari and I have had many encounters.
“But most of them are in parallel. Not too long ago we had direct opposition at the ballot box.” he explained.
The General and former Head of State, who was Buhari’s boss before he retired in 1979, disclosed that at “one occasion when Buhari was then the Federal Commissioner for Petroleum (under him). He went for OPEC meeting.
“And I think that meeting was held in Saudi Arabia. And each leader of an OPEC country who attended that meeting was given a special gold.
“President Buhari, then an Army officer came back to show his disinterestedness and non-selfishness. He brought the gold that was given to him there which must be very expensive, to me and said, please, promise me that you will not give it to somebody else,” he disclosed.
Former US Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, who also reviewed, the book, described as a mistake for the Unites States not showing enough interest in Nigeria, and not giving the country the attention it deserves as the giant of Africa.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, also one of the book reviewers, hailed Buhari for not allowing insurgents to take the country for granted, adding that he used his influence for common good rather than for sale. He said despite being attacked during election campaigns, Buhari’s courage guided him to think of what he would do for the nation.
Former Nigeria’s boss at the United Nations, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, another reviewer, spoke about Buhari’s first tenure as military Head of State, corrected some false impressions that he was a religious and ethnic bigot and an autocrat.
In his remarks, Paden said the book was an attempt to introduce Buhari to the international audience, since Nigerians already know their President.
He also wanted to use the book to address the issue of leadership and challenges therein, like national unity and security, corruption and economic melt down.
The event was witnessed by Presidents of Chad, Idriss Deby, Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou and Benin Republic, Patrice Talon and representatives of the Presidents of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
Other dignitaries in attendance were the President’s wife, Aisha Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo and wife, Dolapo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife, Toyin, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and wife, former Vice President Namadi Sambo, service chiefs and members of Federal Executive Council.
Also in attendance were lawmakers, governors, members of organised private sector, members of the diplomatic corps, royal fathers, among others.