Adeniyi's Book Opens Pandora's Box

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The new book by the Chairman of the THISDAY Editorial Board, Olusegun Adeniyi, ‎Against the Run of Play, has generated a heated debate among politicians and citizens alike. Tobi Soniyi joins the debate‎

Before it was formally presented to the public last Friday, the book, Against the Run of Play, written by THISDAY Editorial Board Chairman, Olusegun Adeniyi was already making waves across the country.

To many, how Dr Goodluck Jonathan lost the election to President Muhammadu Buhari remained a mystery. The incumbent was always expected to win.

‎Even though there have been attempts in the past to explain what actually transpired during the 2015 presidential election, the book is the first ‎compendium to aggregate the views of those who played active roles during the election.

Being the first time an incumbent president would lose an election, any attempt to explain how this happened will certainly attract public interest.

After reading the book, the man at the centre of the election, former President Jonathan disagreed with the views expressed by some of those interviewed by the authors. Of course, they in turn disagreed with him. Like Hilary Clinton, who blamed everyone else but herself for losing the United States of America’s presidential election to Donald Trump, Jonathan blamed everyone else but himself for his loss of the 2015 presidential election to Buhari.

In his views as expressed in the book, Jonathan blamed everyone else for losing to Buhari but himself. Even after the book was published, Jonathan still disagreed with other participants’ views on how the election was lost.

In his reactions which he released ‎on his twitter handle, Jonathan said: “I have just read Segun Adeniyi’s new book, ‘Against the Run of Play’ which has so far enjoyed tremendous reviews in the‎ media.

“My take on it is that the book as presented contains many distorted claims on the 2015 presidential election by many of the respondents.

“There will obviously be more books like that on this subject by concerned Nigerians.

“However, I believe that at the right time, the main characters in the elections including myself will come out with a true account of what transpired either in major interview or books.”

Like Jonathan, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who claimed in the book that the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el Rufai and some other people who came to join the APC from the PDP instigated Buhari to drop him as vice president, has also tried to clarify his position.

The book quoted Tinubu as saying: “What they (Saraki and others from the Peoples Democratic Party) 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,” he said.

“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.”

He also stated that on the eve of the primary, some senators and governors, who defected from the PDP to the APC, met with him to know if he had agreed to run with Buhari, but that he told them to wait until the exercise was over.

He said: “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,” he said.

“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.”

He said el-Rufai tried to influence the emergence of Tunde Bakare, serving overseer of The Latter Rain Assembly, as Buhari’s running mate in 2015.

But at the public presentation of the book, Tinubu sought to clarify his position regarding the issue of the vice president. He spoke through his media aide, Mr Tunde Rahman.

‎He said: “The account of what transpired as told by Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the book and as presented in some newspapers is not about him losing the vice-presidency and the eventual vice-president emerging, as the reviewer has put it.”

“Asiwaju spoke in greater context in that book, and when people are making comments, they should speak with the context in which he spoke. If they are saying that Asiwaju lost the vice-presidency and that a vice-president emerged, where did he emerge from? Who nominated the vice-president?

“I’d like to say that even the vice-president has said on some occasions that a certain political leader from the south-west nominated him for the job and we all know who that is.

“That nomination has been a very good choice from all the wonderful things the vice-president has been doing.”

Even the Presidency can not afford to keep quiet. Reacting to claim by Jonathan that the Buhari’s administration was harassing his family, the presidency in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina said: “We make bold to state unequivocally that Buhari harasses nobody; he merely allows the law to take its course. For the umpteenth time, we say that anybody without skeleton in his or her cupboard, has nothing to fear about the bared fangs of the anti-corruption initiative. Fear belongs only to those who have abused trust while in office. Anybody who feels aggrieved is free to approach the courts to seek redress or justice. Buhari believes in the rule of law and that is why his campaign against corruption is anchored on that plank.”

The Presidency also reacted to Jonathan’s objection to the Buhari’s style of fighting corruption. It said: “With regard to Buhari’s anti-graft style, which the former president deprecates, given the scale of revelations and recoveries so far by the anti-corruption agencies, it is obvious that corruption had an uninhibited course during our recent past. In any case, time will give the verdict on whose style of fighting corruption ultimately yielded the most dividends. For now, Buhari is resolute and single-minded in the fact that his crusade against graft is not targeted at any individual or group. He firmly believes that national interest must always be placed above personal interest, no matter who is involved.”

‎While Nigerians are thrilled to read some of the chilling revelations made in the book, the author surprised many when he said that he did not write up to 25 per cent of what he was told in the course of researching for the book.

He also said that he never betrayed the confidence of all the people he interviewed for the book. He also said he spoke to the principal officers on several occasions, adding that none of the people involved could claim to have been misquoted.

”I went to some of them…more than two to three times,” he added.

He said further: “I don’t anticipate any controversy though a few people may counter what others said about them like President Buhari did to what President Jonathan said. But I made sure I gave everybody a fair hearing.

“Besides, I didn’t even publish a quarter of what I learnt from my interactions with the principal characters I spoke to and I met some of them two or three times. I also shared with them what I intended to publish so nobody can claim I misquoted him. I didn’t want controversy, I just want a good story and I believe I didn’t do too badly.”

At the public presentation of the book, Adeniyi explained what motivated him to write the book. He said he was interested in why it is difficult to unseat an incumbent president. Although, he came to a conclusion that a credible opposition was instrumental to APC’ s success at the 2015 presidential election, he nevertheless provided a caveat.

He said: “However, as a keen follower of events that culminated in the defeat of President Jonathan, it was also clear to me that while a credible opposition platform that the All Progressives Congress (APC) represented helped, it was not the main reason why the election went the way it did. So, I decided to interrogate the factors that led to that unprecedented electoral outcome in our country. The result is what we are presenting today.”

He was also confident that others who participated in the election would write their own books on the matter.

He said: “While I am sure there will be other books on the election, including by the principal actors themselves, I hope this helps to shed some light on a very anxious period in Nigeria’s history that ended on a bright note with the concession of defeat by an incumbent president.”

Atlso speaking at the book presentation, former military ruler, Abdulsalam Abubakar clearly underscored the importance of the book when he said: “By reading this book for instance, we can clearly understand the chain of events that started with the death in May 2010 of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and ended with the defeat in March 2015 of his successor, President Goodluck Jonathan.

“But the book is not just a chronicle of the fall of one president and the rise of another. It is the typical journalistic history-in-a-hurry about what happened, what could have happened and what is currently happening in our country, so that we can all learn important lessons.”

He also challenged journalists to go beyond their daily routine of news reporting but to also write books.

He said: “We need journalists to write books about the different aspects of our national life, not just politics which seems to be Segun’s forte. We need books that will help explain some of the issues that are treated perfunctorily and generate more heat than light so we can understand ourselves better.

“It is indeed instructive that a presidential election held in the United States on 9th November 2016, just less than six months ago, and there are already several books on it, including “How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution” by Joel Pollak and Larry Schweikart. It is very telling that I cannot recall a book on any of the presidential elections we have had in the last 18 years under the current democratic experiment until now. I apologise to the author of such a book if there is one but I am yet to see or even hear of any.

“The point here is that I would rather have Nigerian journalists writing about the happenings and events in our country than a foreigner attempting to do same because when they do, their narratives are not always clear and their views often biased. We are blessed with so many talented journalists in Nigeria that we should be telling our stories in all aspects rather than wait for others to tell our stories.”

Already the book has provoked threats by others to write their own version of the event that transpired in 2015.

Jonathan, Tinubu and former Chairman of PDP, Adamu Mu’azu had already said they would write their own books on the matter very soon. Even the Special Adviser to Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati had said he would also write. He said he was inspired by Adeniyi. Many more will certainly take up the challenges. The more, they say, the merrier. The debate is just starting.

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After reading the book, the man at the centre of the election, former President Jonathan disagreed with the views expressed by some of those interviewed by the authors. Of course, they in turn disagreed with him. Like Hilary Clinton, who blamed everyone else but herself for losing the United States of America’s presidential election to Donald Trump, Jonathan blamed everyone else but himself for his loss of the 2015 presidential election to Buhari.

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But the book is not just a chronicle of the fall of one president and the rise of another. It is the typical journalistic history-in-a-hurry about what happened, what could have happened and what is currently happening in our country, so that we can all learn important lessons.