A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, has spoken of how a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, raised money for then-candidate Muhammadu Buhari to win the 2015 presidential election.
Mr Lawal, who was removed from office for alleged misappropriation of funds, disclosed this in an interview with Punch Newspaper on Sunday.
He stated that it was Mr Tinubu who raised funds for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to defeat the then President, Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in 2015.
Mr Lawal argued that Mr Buhari and his supporters had no money to win an election except “ideas, zeal and fanaticism”.
“Tinubu, who had his tentacles spread across the corporate world, was the only man who knew where and how to raise the funds needed. He was the one that reached out to all the ‘big men’ who were at the time scared of the then President Goodluck Jonathan. These were all rich men that depended on the government’s patronage. But somehow, Tinubu was able to persuade some of them to support Buhari. We had so many experiences, Timipre Sylva (now Minister of State for Petroleum Resources) and I thought we could do it but found out we couldn’t until Tinubu came in and we won the election,” he said.
Mr Lawal said Mr Tinubu spent enormous money “out of his pocket” to finance the party’s campaign. He said Mr Tinubu was responsible for the lobby of a U. S. consultant who handled President Barrack Obama’s campaign and they did the same for Nigeria’s current president.
“That was when you started seeing Buhari wearing a suit, and in Igbo, Yoruba and Kanuri attire. It was then people started to see Buhari as a family man with his beautiful daughters. The strategy was to transform his image and show a humane, loving and trustworthy person. It helped us. At some point during our strategy sessions, the consultants asked us: why don’t you allow Buhari’s wife to come out so that she can be contrasted with Dame Patience Jonathan? When you do that, you would have won the election already, they said. She provided a contrast to the former First Lady.”
Speaking on the crisis rocking the APC, he argued that persons with selfish interest were against Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past chairman of the party.
Mr Lawal also spoke about the battle between the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu.
“When I was removed as SGF, the general outcry was that because of my closeness to Buhari, they wanted to weaken my flanks so that they could come after me. But now in the case of Magu, the narrative is that corruption is fighting back… I used to joke that if you are a thief and you are caught by Magu, nobody can release you unless you cut off his hands”, he said.