Former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has revealed how former President Olusegun Obasanjo truncated the ambition of National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to become the running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
In an interview with The Punch, Oyinlola said although Obasanjo was the last person to throw his weight behind Buhari’s candidature, having opposed the re-election of the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, he was eventually prevailed upon to support the former military ruler.
The former military administrator of Lagos STate pointed out that there was already an agreement between Buhari and Tinubu before 2015 that they would be presidential and vice-presidential candidates respectively, a deal he said was initially hidden from most party members.
This development, according to him, led to some uneasiness in the party as they feared that a Muslim-Muslim ticket could cost the APC victory in the election, given the near-equal population of Christians and Muslims and the sensitivity that surrounds religion issues in the country.
Oyinlola explained that if not for Obasanjo’s intervention, the APC would likely have gone ahead with the Muslim-Muslim ticket and the party could have found it difficult to displace the government in power, especially when all reservations that surfaced over the proposed Muslim-Muslim ticket had been dismissed.
“The agreement was concealed from a good number of the party leaders until it surfaced after Buhari had got the ticket. Then the rumour came out and some us felt danger was looming with the idea of Muslim-Muslim ticket. To further add to our fears, General Buhari on one occasion said there was nothing wrong in the Muslim-Muslim presidential arrangement, saying after all he governed with Tunde Idiagbon.
“That statement made us to know it (the Muslim-Muslim idea) was a fact. On two occasions, Bola (Tinubu) mentioned it in my presence that they agreed. If you recall one trending video back then, where it was said that Buhari had jettisoned what they agreed on, that is the room he was sleeping when Buhari was looking for the post.
“We then told Baba (Obasanjo). We told him that taking power from an incumbent government was a tough task and we must not give room for excuse and miss the target. We told him they (Buhari and Tinubu) were thinking of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. That was when Baba (Obasanjo) said people should not take the sensibilities of Nigerians for granted,”Oyinlola said.
He said after Obasanjo’s intervention succeeded in changing the decision, some people started spreading the news that Obasanjo frustrated the plan to make Tinubu the vice-presidential candidate.
He added: “After that (Obasanjo’s intervention), they started saying it in my presence that Obasanjo frustrated the plan to get Tinubu on the ticket for 2015 but I always acted as if I didn’t hear them. We then had a stakeholders meeting where the issue of the running mate was discussed again.”
In addition to Obasanjo’s input, Oyinlola said a former governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje, also cautioned against the Muslim-Muslim ticket, especially because the party needed all the votes it could get from different parts of the country.
“At the meeting, ex-governor Goje, rose up and said in the northern part, there is negligible number of Christians. He said the APC would need every vote to upstage the incumbent, so nobody should toy with the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket and everybody concurred. I think it was even Bola (Tinubu) that suggested that the matter should be taken before some leaders to resolve. But we never saw anything like that again,” the former governor said.