•Says John Paden’s biography reeks of misinformation, mischief
Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Tunji Bello has slammed President Muhammad Buhari’s biographer, John Paden for twisting facts on how Prof. Yemi Osinbajo emerged as the vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.
Bello also gave further insight into how Tinubu beat other geo-political zones in nominating Osinbajo for the post.
In a statement, titled: How Tinubu nominated Osinbajo, Bello narrated how a search for Buhari’s candidate was eventually decided at a meeting convened in a guest house in Ikoyi, a highbrow area in Lagos.
The Lagos SSG pointedly accused Paden of “historical distortion of facts” on Osinbajo’s emergence as vice president.
The former Environment commissioner mused on how progressives, who should close ranks on ejecting a ruling party instead, chose to distort historical facts, which, if it had come from a political adversary, would have been acceptable.
His words: “The news media have become agog with false story as to how Osinbajo became vice president. During the launch of a book: ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The challenges of leadership in Nigeria,’ in Abuja, on Monday, October 3, Nigerians were fed with half truths by the author, Prof. John Paden, on how Osinbajo became the vice president of the country. I don’t know how the author came about his story, but, he totally got it wrong because what he wrote basically is based on falsehood that reeks of deliberate misinformation and mischief.
“I know how Tinubu picked Osinbajo because I was part of the process that midwifed his nomination. In mid December 2014, it was a Saturday morning after Buhari had been picked by the APC, at the party’s presidential primaries at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. I received a phone call from Asiwaju to see him that morning.
“On my way to his house, I discovered that a car at a reasonable distance was that of former Lagos State commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dele Alake, who was, ostensibly, heading towards Asiwaju’s house in Ikoyi…As soon as we arrived, Asiwaju quickly asked us to join him in his car as we headed to a Guest House. At the Guest House, the former APC Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, Professor Yemi Osibajo and one renowned Pastor joined us.
“At the meeting, Asiwaju related to us the urgent need to pick a vice presidential candidate for the APC. He advised that we immediately discard the idea of his being nominated for the vice-presidential slot as it was no longer possible to pick a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“This, he reasoned, made sense if, indeed, we were to be realistic in our bid to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election. He reasoned that what was important and imperative at that time was to look for a good, Christian nominee to complement President Buhari. I remember Baba Akande responded to his aversions that he would still have preferred that Asiwaju be the running mate since it had been done before. Baba Akande was obviously referring to the MKO Abiola/ Babagana Kingibe nomination (in 1993). Asiwaju responded by distinguishing the political equation then from what was before us at that point in time.
“He foreclosed that scenario as no longer possible. We all voiced our opinions, and, at the end of the day, it was resolved that we had to get a Christian candidate.”
Bello also narrated factors Tinubu marshalled in favour of Osinbajo which gave him the ticket.
“It was at this point Asiwaju reminded us to be fast in coming up with an option because he felt other geographical zones were also jostling for same position and reiterated the need for the South West to get it as a must. Asiwaju audaciously told us that left for him and if he were to pick anyone, he would suggest Osinbajo. That, Osinbajo, apart from being a brilliant legal luminary, is also a committed progressive and democrat. And, having been married to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s grand-daughter, it would not be a problem selling him to the old political establishment of the South West for acceptance…He also reasoned that the second major factor in favour of Osinbajo was the fact that he is a strong Christian and that he is already a Pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
“In the long run, Osinbajo’s nomination was well received by all of us at that meeting and he was asked to start detailing with us, further strategy sessions to which he brought out his laptop and we all commenced a brainstorming session…
“The meeting did not finish until about 9.00pm when we returned to Asiwaju’s residence in Bourdillon, Ikoyi. By the time we returned to his house, there were about six serving governors waiting to see him from different parts of Nigeria.
“What is particularly sad now is that the book launch of the president was deployed to create a make-believe story that puts the society at a disadvantage of history. One would have thought that now that the progressives, through an uncommon alliance in 2015, created an upset by defeating, for the first time in the country’s history, the then ruling People’s Democratic Party, it might be taken as given that the role of all active participants in the exercise would be correctly recorded. But surprisingly and painfully too, such an avenue used to create an historical distortion of facts is coming from an unexpected quarters at this early stage of progressive politics.
“It becomes more of a matter of concern when a renowned intellectual writes a book and begins to redefine events in his own way by abashedly evading facts that are bellowing in the public space in order to re-create a world of make-believe for his audience. Sincerely, such an act understandably becomes a matter to ponder seriously. Let us stop here. It is not all clothes that can be dried in the sun.”