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Tinubu: Buhari Declined to Nominate My Running Mate

“President Buhari said I gave him credibility and I deserved to be president.”

Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, stated yesterday in Akure that he had conceded to President Muhammadu Buhari the honour to nominate his running mate, but the president declined.

The statement confirmed for the first time speculations that made the rounds about the choice of the ruling party’s vice presidential candidate.
Tinubu, who spoke at the residence of a former leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, also disclosed that he had doubted whether he would clinch the presidential ticket of the ruling party at a time when the battle became tough.

The former Lagos State governor said Buhari and the APC northern governors proved to him that Nigeria would survive the challenges to its unity.
However, there seemed to be a division in the ranks of Afenifere, as Pa Fasoranti and some Yoruba leaders publicly endorsed Tinubu for reasons of his political antecedents, but acting leader of the group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, described the Akure declaration as diversionary.

Adebanjo said the group’s endorsement of the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, was sacrosanct.
National Chairman of APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had during a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party announced President of Senate, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, as the consensus candidate of the party, shortly before the presidential primary of the ruling party in June.
Adamu’s announcement, however, met stiff resistance from other members of the NWC, as well as northern APC governors, who insisted that all the presidential aspirants must to go to the field and compete.
The APC governors also prevailed on some aspirants from the north to stand down, insisting that power must shift to the south.

Tinubu, in a statement from his media office signed by Mr. Tunde Rahman, said after he won the primary, he asked the president to nominate a running mate for him, but the president declined.
According to Tinubu, “The north proved to me Nigeria can survive its unity. Some people wanted President Muhammadu Buhari to announce someone but the president said, no. He insisted the process must go on democratically.
“The president said anyone that would mess up the APC process would see the other side of his eyes. He remained upright and saw the process to the end.

“Northern APC governors resolved that the presidency must go to the south and, especially, South-west. Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Abdullahi Ganduje, and others supported me to the end.
“The battle was tough and at a point I was in doubt. There were many rumours and I became confused about what to believe.”
Tinubu added, “President Buhari told me I promoted his name with the way I won the primary election, because the process was clean and transparent and nobody can accuse him of manipulating the process. President Buhari said I gave him credibility and I deserved to be president.
“When I asked him to nominate the VP candidate for me, he said I should pick whoever I want and it is the reason I chose a competent man in Kashim Shettima, who never lost any election and protected Christians in time of trouble in his state.”
Recalling he earlier visited Pa Fasoranti on March 4, when he was on nationwide consultation before the APC primary, Tinubu said he promised the Afenifere leader then that he would come back after winning the APC ticket.
The APC presidential candidate said he had come to fulfil his promise and asked the Yoruba leaders to thank Buhari and the northern governors for their steadfastness and for being promise-keepers.

General Secretary of Afenifere, Chief Seinde Arogbofa, while welcoming Tinubu and his entourage, charged the APC candidate to be a leader that would unite Nigeria and work for the progress and development of the whole country.
Tinubu told the former Afenifere leader, “You are not just a Yoruba man but a Nigerian. When you become president, take Nigeria into consideration in all you do. But never forget home. Our demands are what you know already. Restructuring, security and fixing the economy. Our country is no longer safe. We want state police so that the country will be safe.”
On his part, Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who received Tinubu and his delegation on behalf of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, said the people of Ondo State were Afenifere and would support Tinubu to win.
“Asiwaju has the reach, the competence to lead Nigeria,” Aiyedatiwa said.
Ekiti State Governor Biodun Oyebanji, in his remarks, assured the Yoruba leaders that all the governors of the South-west and Ekiti people were solidly behind Tinubu.

“We are happy to receive our leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, today. I want to assure him and our fathers that we will support him to the end,” the governor said.
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, and the former Afenifere leader charged the APC presidential standard bearer to work to fix the economy.
Falae decried the falling value of the Naira, adding that he used all his life to serve Nigeria and at his old age, and did not want all he used his life for to be wasted.
Falae said, “When you become president, please, work to fix this country. We are here to offer advice. I am old and no longer looking for job. We need to fix security, fix our economy. Our naira is almost becoming useless and will soon become N1000 to a dollar. We must change that. I know your ability. We will always be here to support and I wish you well. We will be here when you bring the trophy home by the grace of God,” he said.

Afenifere, in a statement by its National Organising Secretary, Abagun Kole Omololu, said after presenting his manifesto to its leaders, there was no doubt that the APC presidential candidate was prepared for the job.
Omololu stated, “He shared with us his vision of a greater and more prosperous Nigeria, where democratic rights, rule of law, justice and fairness will reign supreme. He also gave assurance on steps to be taken to ensure safety and security of Nigerians and their properties.
“Following exhaustive deliberations informed by presentations by various stakeholders, the Afenifere states as follow: ‘we affirm that Nigeria as a country must be established on the basis of democracy, true federalism and social justice.
“We affirm that democracy is the most civilised method of governance, because it is based on the fundamental human rights of every citizen to determine how he or she wants to be governed. We support the decision of all qualified citizens to exercise their fundamental rights of seeking offices provided by the federal constitution.

“Having taken cognisance of his commendable antecedents as Lagos State governor and his demonstrated ability in building physical and human capital, the Yoruba leaders at today’s meeting are in no doubt that Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria offers the best opportunity to produce a government that will usher in a new era of hope, peace, security, harmony, gainful employment for the multitude, economic development, social and political stability.
“We were also assured of his commitment to the promotion of true federalism that will give states more control over their affairs. Afenifere wishes him success in the pursuit of his vision. The meeting urged other presidential candidates to utilise similar opportunities to articulate their visions.”

Yoruba leaders from the six South-west states, including Kwara and Kogi, were present at the Akure residence of Pa Fasoranti to offer support to Tinubu.
They included retired Methodist Bishop, Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, Chief Arogbofa, Chief Pius Akinyelure, Professor Isaac Adewole, Chief Olu Falae, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, General Alani Akinrinade, General Olu Bajowa, Mr. Sola Iji, Dr Kunle Olajide, General Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders, Senator Cornelius Adebayo, and Senator Iyiola Omisore.
Others were Chief Bisi Akande, Dare Babarinsa, deputy governor of Oyo State, Bayo Lawal, who represented Governor Seyi Makinde, Chief Segun Adesegun, representing former Governor Segun Osoba, Senator Tony Adefuye, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, state leaders of Afenifere, and many others.

But Adebanjo, while reacting to the endorsement of Tinubu, said the “real Afenifere” had made its position known about endorsing Obi, and had not changed. He stressed that the intent of the Akure meeting was to create a wedge between him and Pa Fasoranti.
Speaking with Daily Trust, Adebanjo said Fasoranti called him over the phone yesterday and he warned him about the proposed visit by Tinubu.
Adebanjo stated, “The Yoruba people know their leader. I’ve spoken, the National Secretary has spoken. This is no the time to engage in polemics. The way forward is my position. What happened was a diversion. They want us to be engaged in arguments. Is that the issue now?”

Insisting that in the interest of fairness and justice, it was the turn of the South-east to produce the next president, Adebanjo said, “Can he (Tinubu) deny it that the South-west has had its turn? Can he deny the South-south has had its turn? They should answer that. As far as I am concerned, the meeting does not concern us as Afenifere.
“Afenifere is not divided. That was why I said I don’t want to engage in polemics. They want to throw a wedge between me and Pa Reuben Fasoranti and I won’t allow it. The man phoned me yesterday and I warned him, don’t get yourself involved.”
Adebanjo said those who attended the meeting were Yoruba APC chieftains, not Afenifere.

Adedayo Akinwale, Emameh Gabriel in Abuja and Fidelis David in Akure

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