Former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Bisi Akande has revealed why President Muhammadu Buhari dropped Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as his running mate in 2015.
Akande, in his autobiography titled: “My Participations,” unveiled on Thursday in Lagos said Buhari stated that he was pressurised by northern governors to drop Tinubu as his running mate in 2015 to avert a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Before that time, Akande said in April 2014, he was in Abuja when Buhari called him and asked him to persuade Bola to run with him, saying that it wad Governor Masari who called him that Buhari wanted to see him.
Akande said when he followed him into Buhari’s private lobby, Bola Tinubu was already seated there.
“So, when Buhari tabled the matter, I cautioned them that this must not get out beyond the four of us. ‘How could he be talking of a running mate when he had not secured the ticket? I thought such information, if leaked to the general public, might affect the conduct of the party’s congress at the presidential primaries, if not its choice of candidate. I thanked Buhari for thinking so highly of our friend,” he said.
Akande said Tinubu later told him that Buhari’s emissaries had been coming to him, but that he tried to dodge the gesture and not to show interest, adding that they agreed that they would reopen the matter when Buhari had secured the ticket.
He said when Buhari emerged the APC’s candidate, things changed, with former APC chair, Odigie Oyegun, who was supported by Tinubu to become chairman of the party, asking for names from the geopolitical zones from where Buhari would pick his running mate.
According to Akande, Oyegun said it was from the list that Buhari would choose a running mate, saying he objected and turned to Buhari and asked: “General, where are you choosing your running mate from?’ He answered, ‘The South-west.’ ‘Oh! I didn’t know,’ Oyegun said. He apologised.
“I didn’t know why Oyegun made that proposition and at whose behest. As the chairman of the party, maybe some people pushed him to do that. Then, I called Buhari aside. ‘Is our arrangement still standing?’ I referred him to our discussion in April. He said yes!”
The former Osun governor later said he got to know that some people constituted themselves into a group, called the Northern Interest Group, and that they prevailed on Buhari not to allow a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
He said after the committee’s meeting hit a dead end, Buhari phoned Tinubu to give him three names from which he would pick a running mate.
Akande said they were all in Abuja and that Tinubu rushed to him with this information and wanted to know whether the understanding reached with Buhari had changed.
He said he called Buhari and that he told him he now needed three names from he Southwest and that he was angry with him.
‘‘General, this was not what we agreed upon,’ I said in annoyance. ‘You are changing our agreement?’ He knew I was getting angry. He said he was under pressure from some governors from the north, including those who were Muslims. I told him the slot belonged to the South-West and among the Yoruba, religion is not a factor in leadership.
“Oshiomhole was surprised about the narration. ‘If indeed you promised to make Asiwaju your running mate, it would not be fair to renege,’. Buhari now said he never meant it that way. What he meant originally was that Tinubu should partner with him,” he explained.
Akande added: “We were registered in July 2013, and he called me to prevail on Tinubu to be his running mate in April 2014. Buhari knew I was upset but we tried to manage the situation. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by all those pressures. We decided to let him go.
Akande said it was Tinubu who later suggested the name of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to Buhari as his running mate
“We were trying to toy with some names and I wanted him to participate in the discussion. After some time, Amosun, Aregbesola and I were considering some names. Then I decided to call Tinubu again.
“We negotiated with Buhari in 2011 and gave him a name to choose instead of Pastor Bakare,’ I spoke to Tinubu on phone. ‘Who was that person?’ l asked. It was Yemi Osinbajo,’ Tinubu declared. I asked Aregbesola to find out where Osinbajo was. He called him on the phone. ‘Yemi, where are you?
‘Don’t you know your case is coming up tomorrow?’ ‘l am in Abuja to argue your case.’ Osinbajo answered at the other end. ‘Which hotel are you staying?” Osinbajo told him.
“I got a blank sheet of paper and wrote Yemi Osinbajo on it. I instructed Amosun and Aregbesola to deliver that note to Buhari immediately. It was almost midnight. Then the two of them left,” he explained.
He said it was later on that Osinbajo was announced as Buhari’s running mate