A former governor of Lagos State and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has accused Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, of being responsible for his failure to run in the 2015 presidential election as running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress.
According to Punch Newspaper, quoting ‘Against the Run of Play’, a book by the chairman of editorial board of ThisDay Newspaper, Olusegun Adeniyi, Mr. Tinubu said Messrs. Saraki and El-Rufai worked separately but for one purpose, influencing Mr. Buhari not to pick him as his running mate.
He said both politicians played the religious card, telling Mr. Buhari a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be unpopular.
In what appeared a background to the political game that marked the June 2015 National Assembly leadership elections, Mr. Tinubu was reported to have said Mr. Saraki and other former PDP leaders who defected to the APC disrupted the plans the party had made before the arrival of the so-called PDP bloc.
Mr. Tinubu was strongly opposed to the emergence of Mr. Saraki as the Senate President, and was able to get the formal leadership of the APC to endorse Ahmed Lawan, for the country’s number 3 position.
He said: “What they (Saraki and others from the PDP) did behind my back was wrong. We always do things as a group. By the time they joined, we were already too far ahead in our processes but we accommodated them.
“We agreed to take their state structures and subsume them into the part and they all had their opportunity to nominate the candidates of their choices for different political offices.
“But they went behind to instigate Buhari and some other people in the party against me on the pretext of religion. That was not right. They were canvassing arguments that the Christians in the North would not vote for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“Nasir el-Rufai was also selling the same argument within the CPC (the defunct Congress for Progressive Change) because at that point, he still wanted to have Pastor Bakare brought in as Buhari’s running mate.”
The former governor was also reported to have said some senators and governors, who defected from the PDP to the APC, met with him on the eve of the APC presidential primaries in Lagos to know if there was an agreement between him and Mr. Buhari to run together.
“I told them that it was better to resolve such issue after the primaries, but they wanted to make it a condition for supporting Buhari, which, for me, was very wrong. I told them I could not insist on this as a condition for my support for Buhari. I felt that was not right to hold Buhari hostage in this manner.
“I believe the support that we gave was fundamental to Buhari clinching the party nomination. Without that support, a different outcome would have been most likely.
“I backed down because I did not want to be depicted as causing a problem. I backed away from the position in order to offer Buhari a name I once raised with him in 2011: that of Professor Yemi Osinbajo,” he said.
It is the first time Mr. Tinubu would go public about what actually strained his relationship with Mr. Saraki and how he failed to become Nigeria’s number two citizen.
But Mr. Saraki had, in April 2016, hinted at how he sabotaged Mr. Tinubu’s vice-presidential ambition, which he said was his ‘original sin’ that motivated the former Lagos governor’s opposition to him.
“Most people talk about the Senate Presidency position, but this was not my only offence. I have also been accused of helping to frustrate some people’s opportunity to emerge as President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate. But I have no problem with anybody. My concern was that it would not be politically smart of us to run with a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“I doubt if we would have won the election if we had done this, especially after the PDP had successfully framed us a Muslim party. I felt we were no longer in 1993. Perhaps, more than ever before, Nigerians are more sensitive to issues of religious balancing.
“This, my brother, was my original sin. What they say to themselves, among other things, was that if he could conspire against our ambition, then he must not realize his own ambition as well. For me however, I have no regrets about this. I only stood for what I believed was in the best interest of the party and in the best interest of Nigeria,” Mr. Saraki said last year.
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