After days of marathon meetings and horse-trading, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress [APC], Muhammadu Buhari, has settled for a former Attorney General of Lagos, Yemi Osinbajo, as his running mate, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report.
A source close to Mr. Buhari said the APC candidate agreed on Mr. Osinbajo Tuesday night as a concession to a former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu, who for days aggressively pushed himself forward for the slot.
Mr. Tinubu’s presumed candidature, according to party sources, was aggressively pushed by party chairman, Mr. Bisi Akande, and a cohort of south west governors, which did not sink well with many of his own long time allies. On the outer cone of the party structure however a league of young
Mr. Tinubu’s first choice candidate however was Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, a senior advocate of Nigeria, and professor of law who helped rebuild the Lagos State judiciary as a national reference point as a two-term attorney-general of the state. Mr. Osinbajo is also connected to the powerful Awolowo political dynasty by marriage. He is married to the Late Chief Awolowo’s grand daughter.
Inside party sources who did not want to be named told PREMIUM TIMES in Lagos that once Mr. Buhari had expressed open preference to have a running mate from the South West, Mr. Tinubu offered him a three-man list that had Mr. Osinbajo, himself [Tinubu], and Mr. Babatunde Fashola, current lagos State governor.
The Tinubu gambit, according to his aides, was a strategic ploy to reinforce Mr. Osinbajo’s candidature and dim Mr. Fashola’s prospective choice since it seemed Mr. Buhari had a soft preference for him. “In essence Tinubu, while promoting claims to his own candidature, was actually playing a wedge politics to fend off opposition to Osinbajo,” remarked one of his closest aides in Abuja Tuesday night.
Osinbajo, a top cleric in the powerful Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, and the Chairman of the governing board of the Redeemer’s University, was thought to be a powerful choice to match the Jonathan ticket that has being playing to a christian constituency through serial pilgrimages, and the subtle elevation of the status of the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria to a virtual presidential adviser’s status.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and many of its campaign slogans have sought to milk the deficit implicit in a possible Muslim-Muslim ticket, an arrangement that would have merged in the event of either a Tinubu or Fashola candidature as running mates.
“Yes, it has been agreed that Osinbajo should be the one,” our source, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to break the news to the media, said. “It was finally agreed last night. There is going to be a press conference to present him today.
“But we will continue to work on Tinubu to accept the reality of our time. He could not have been selected because Nigerians are sensitive to religion and we shouldn’t be blind to that.
“To be fair to him, he has agreed that Osinbajo be selected but we will keep working on him. He has been assured of his place in the scheme of things.”
Mr. Osinbajo, a core loyalist of Mr. Tinubu, was Attorney General during the former governor’s reign in Lagos and is one of his closest allies.
Mr. Osinbajo, 55, is a professor of law at the University of Lagos.
He is a senior member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, and is very close to its General Overseer and revered clergyman, Enoch Adeboye.
He has at various times been Master of Ceremony at the church’s Holy Ghost Convention and Congreses usually held at its Camp Ground along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Mr. Buhari ran with another cleric, Tunde Bakare, in the 2011 presidential election.
Before settling for Mr. Osinbajo, the leadership of the APC had first eliminated Mr. Tinubu for the position because he shares the same Islamic faith with Mr. Buhari.
Also, the plan to choose either Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State or Adams Oshiomhole of Edo in the South-South geo-political zone for the slot was discarded as the party narrowed its search to the South West region.
Mr. Tinubu had in the past one week schemed to emerge the running mate to Mr. Buhari, who was elected the APC presidential candidate last Thursday.
The former governor even accused President Goodluck Jonathan, the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] in the February election, of mounting a campaign to block him from emerging as Mr. Buhari’s running mate.
In line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, political parties have up till Thursday to submit names of their presidential and vice presidential candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC].
The National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun, had told journalists on Tuesday that the party would announce its presidential running mate today in keeping with the nation’s electoral law.[Premium Times]