Adeniyi Clarifies Encounter with Jonathan

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• Fresh account says Osinbajo was nominated by govs, senators

Olawale Olaleye

The author of the book, Against the Run of Play, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, has clarified his encounter with former President Goodluck Jonathan, saying that he took adequate care to ensure a fair and accurate presentation of the former president’s views in the book.

Following a barrage of attacks on Jonathan by critics for some of the views he expressed in the book about his defeat at the 2015 presidential election, he had issued a statement through his Facebook page, suggesting that he might have been misrepresented.

“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 election including myself will come out with a true account of what transpired either in major interviews or books,” Jonathan said.
Several comments on the former president’s intervention gave the impression that Jonathan was disputing the accounts of Adeniyi.

But the author, who is also the chairman of the Editorial Board of THISDAY Newspapers, told Arise TV, a sister broadcast station of the newspaper, that some sections of the social media’s interpretation of the former president’s reaction was misconceived.

“The respondents President Jonathan was referring to are the people who spoke to me and whose claims he apparently disputes or disagrees with,” Adeniyi said, adding: “This should be clear enough to those who did not choose to read his statement with a tendentious accent. But apparently it is not. President Jonathan did not say I distorted his views and the fact that others may have presented him in ways he doesn’t like cannot be taken as an indictment of me or of my work.”

He explained his encounter with the former president: “For the record, after my first conversation with President Jonathan, I asked for his email address and promised to send him the raw text of our conversation which he could then amend as appropriate. I sent it to him that very day. When I went for a second meeting, I took along a printed copy which we both went through line-by-line. Whatever he wanted removed, reworked or rephrased was done while in some areas he provided further context to what he said.

“Incidentally, a few hours after our second conversation, President Jonathan called me that he felt uncomfortable about a certain response he gave to a particular issue. He told me what to do and I reflected it immediately. I went into all that length because he is a man for whom I have tremendous respect and my intention was/is not to embarrass him or anybody. I just wanted his side of the story told in a way he is comfortable with.

“I went through this same process with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Senate President David Mark, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, former NGF Chairman and current Transportation Minister, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, former Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu and a few other principal actors who all have in their emails the raw text of our conversations.”
He said the reason he went through that process was to ensure he did not misquote, misrepresent or distort the views of any of the people who spoke to him on trust.
“My intention was not to ambush or set up anyone. This is why I gave them the opportunity to go over what they told me again before putting it in print. Fortunately, none of them has come out to say I distorted their views,” he said.

Meanwhile, as the book continues to generate controversy, a fresh account of how contrary to the narrative provided by a former governor of Lagos State and one of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu’s, vice-presidential ambition was scuttled has emerged.
Sources close to the intrigues told THISDAY Monday night that contrary to his claim that the duo of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, frustrated his desire to emerge the running mate of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 presidential election, a combined team of northern governors and senators of the party actually truncated his ambition.

The same team of governors and senators, and not Tinubu, according to sources, also suggested Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora and former Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as suitable choices for the offices, thus putting Buhari in a difficult situation.
Tinubu had in the book, Against the Run of Play: How an Incumbent President Was Defeated in Nigeria, written by Adeniyi, said that Saraki and el-Rufai denied him the vice-presidency, following which he single-handedly nominated Osinbajo for the position.

According to sources, however, the party’s governors and senators did. They had first met to discuss serious and relevant issues preparatory to APC’s presidential primary and one of the issues that came up at that meeting was the need for a suitable running mate.
At the meeting, it was agreed that it would be suicidal politically to head into the election without agreeing on certain preconditions.

Particularly, the governors had expressed reservations about a Muslim-Muslim ticket and had warned that it would affect the votes in their states, since they all have sizeable number of Christians in their states. Thus, they agreed to meet with the president and resolve the matter.
Sources, however, said that the first indication that the governors and senators were going to move against Tinubu started right in one of Tinubu’s guest houses somewhere in Ikoyi, a few hours before the party’s presidential primary held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.

The meeting, which allegedly started a few minutes to midnight had practically all the northern governors and their senators in attendance, whilst Tinubu personally went to fetch the then presidential aspirant, Buhari, as he was meant to be present.
Sources said the meeting had barely settled down to business when the Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, stood up and said whoever was advocating a Muslim-Muslim joint ticket should bury the idea, including you, pointing at Tinubu.

By opening up the discussion, sources said other governors started getting up to speak, repeating the same thing in a manner that did not go down well with Tinubu, who was by now visibly angry, according to sources.
Although the meeting could not agree on other issues, everyone was said to have left with the understanding that a Muslim-Muslim ticket was not an option in the 2015 general election.
Immediately after the meeting, however, Buhari was said to have mandated the governors and senators to go and come up with three names for him from the South-west, from amongst whom he would choose a running mate, this of course was without Tinubu’s knowledge.

A few days after, the governors comprising Governor Yari; former Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko; former Gombe State governor, Senator Danjuma Goje; and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, among a few others visited Buhari with a list of three nominees, Osinbajo, Mamora and Oyinlola.
According to sources, soon after they left Buhari’s house, the president who had by this time emerged the candidate of the APC reportedly went straight to Tinubu’s house in Abuja, the nation’s capital, to present him with the list as put together by the northern governors, senators and other stakeholders privy to the development.

But Tinubu, sources said, refused to accept the list and flared up to the point of walking Buhari out of his house, a situation believed to have marked the lingering feud between them.
With Tinubu was a former chairman of the party and two serving governors – one from South-west and the other from South-south. The South-south governor was the only one said to have walked Buhari to his car.
But Buhari, sources said, did not leave Tinubu’s house without telling him two things: that he would not run on a Muslim-Muslim ticket and would not consider him as running mate on whatever grounds, even though there was an understanding before the creation of APC that they would contest on a joint ticket.

An obviously livid Buhari, sources said, immediately sought a breakfast meeting with Saraki the next day. When Saraki got to his place, he was said to have complained to him that he had never been spoken to so rudely and embarrassed in his life the way that Tinubu did the day before and that it seemed Tinubu was ready for a battle, which he (Buhari) said he was equally prepared for.

But Saraki, sources said, persuaded Buhari, saying that was not the way to go. As a way of further calming frayed nerves, Saraki was said to have called the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, informing him that there was a problem and that he needed to come immediately before the situation got out of hand.
As advised, Amosun was said to have flown into Abuja and another meeting held amongst the three of them – Amosun, Saraki and Buhari – with Saraki, informing the Ogun governor of what had happened.

Saraki and Amosun then decided to strategically manage the situation in a manner that would manage Tinubu’s ego and not rock the boat, while at the same time achieving the resolve of the president not to run on a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Amosun, it was said, then convened a meeting of the South-west caucus, where he informed it of the latest development.

His meeting with the caucus was heated, with the South-west caucus also reminding Tinubu that a Muslim-Muslim ticket would not fly and that the matter should not be pushed beyond what it had become.
They, however, resolved to work on a soft-landing that would assuage Tinubu by asking him to choose from the list, just one person as against presenting the three names to the president to choose from, and that whomever he chose would remain the choice of the zone and by implication, he would have been seen as having chosen the nation’s vice-president, which was what happened.

The name of Osinbajo naturally appealed to him, having worked with him for eight years as Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Lagos State and the name was taken to Buhari without an option.
Hence Buhari had to accept what had been foisted on him, when indeed Osinbajo was the only person he did not know on the list.

According to a party source, while it is true that majority of the stakeholders in the party had opposed a Muslim-Muslim ticket, which unfortunately prevented Tinubu from becoming the nation’s vice-president, sources claimed it was not correct and rather misleading to say Saraki and El-Rufai thwarted his chances of becoming the vice-president.