Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, recalled how he became the All Progressives Congress, APC, running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, saying he was shocked when he got the news from Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Osinbajo, who enthused that in terms of preparation for the office of President in 2023, he was the most prepared to take over the mantle of leadership of the country from President Buhari, spoke to State House Correspondents at a breaking of fast (Iftar) in his Aguda residence in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last night.
He told journalists that the news of his nomination as running mate to then-candidate Buhari in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election came to him as a surprise.
Why I’m telling the story
Osinbajo said he was telling his story to journalists to let them know that an individual’s life can change at any minute, adding that he always believed in and worked for a better Nigeria all his life and his decision to run for the office of president in the 2023 election was to enable him to make a difference.
How we chose Osinbajo — Presidency source
Indeed, a source close to President Buhari narrated the intrigues that shadowed the selection of Osinbajo.
Said the source: “At the end of the day, it was Aregbe (Aregbesola) and Chief Bisi Akande, who supported Osinbajo. Asiwaju had suggested it initially on a theoretical basis but actually wanted the job himself. On the eve of the deadline, the President said he couldn’t do Muslim-Muslim ticket. Asiwaju was enraged. Mr President walked out on him as there was an altercation.
Akande, Aregbe and Oshiomhole were around. The President called Amosun to narrate the altercation as he left Asiwaju’s house
“Asiwaju stopped pushing for PYO (President Yemi Osinbajo), because PYO opposed Muslim-Muslim tickets when Asiwaju set up a small team to consider the possibility and how it could fly Muslim-Muslim tickets.
“So, after the President left Asiwaju’s house in Abuja, Aregbe told Asiwaju it has to be Osinbajo. Asiwaju said no, he doesn’t want Osinbajo to benefit after he had opposed Muslim- Muslim ticket. Aregbe insisted, and with Akande’s encouragement sent Osinbajo’s name. By then Amosun had also joined at Asiwaju’s house. Chief Akande signed the paper and sent it to the President. The President’s narrative was captured in Prof. John Paden’s book: “Muhammadu Buhari”— The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria”.
He said few people have the kind of training and experience he had and that in terms of preparedness for the job, he stands out among all other aspirants vying for the APC presidential ticket ahead of May’s primary elections.
Hear him: “I have been given opportunities that many may not have had. I think those opportunities were meant to be for a particular purpose. And I think that time has come.
“This is the time when all of my experiences have now come to the fore. And I will use all of what I have to serve this
“This is really one of the reasons why I chose to run. There are those who may say ‘well, he’s just a politician speaking. But I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that I believe that we have a real opportunity here to do something different for our country.
“I know everyone else who is running for office. Frankly, to tell you the honest truth, just in terms of preparation for the job, I don’t think I need to make a case. In terms of preparation for the job, no one else comes close to me.”
Osinbajo, however, stoked laughter from the newsmen when he said: “I am probably meeting you for your financial contribution.
“I don’t know why you think it’s a joke,” he said, eliciting more laughter from the journalists.
The vice president at the dinner sought the support of the journalists in his ambition.
Speaking earlier, the interim chairman of the State House Press Corps, Ismaila Chafe, told Osinbajo that many members of the corps have been reporting from the Presidential Villa for over a decade.
In a separate meeting in Benin City, Edo State, he said President Buhari has exposed him enough to critical decisions and programmes about Nigeria which has equipped him with the capacity to lead Nigeria.
He spoke at the palace of the Oba of Benin when he visited Edo State to meet with delegates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of the party’s presidential primary election, where he is to slug it out with 10 other candidates for the presidential ticket of the party.
Also in Asaba, Delta State, Osinbajo, said he was in the 2023 presidential race to salvage the country, adding that he has requisite experience and qualifications, having served as vice president in the past seven years.
At the Iftar in Abuja, he said: “I was working on the case at Penel Apartments in Abuja on December 18, 2014, when at 1 a.m. I received a call from Rauf Aregbesola that they were coming to Lagos to pick me up.
“I said I was in Abuja. He said ‘good because you have been nominated as the vice-presidential candidate’ and I said is that how you nominate people?”
He added that after his case that day, he returned to his hotel accommodation in the city and immediately after he removed his wig, he was hit by a feeling that “this is probably the last time I will be wearing it.”
He said the current Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Aregbesola, and former Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, later in the day took him to the presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari has exposed me enough to lead Nigeria
Meanwhile, during his visit to the Oba of Benin, before meeting with Edo State delegates of the APC, Osinbajo said: “I am here today on a political visit but for obvious reasons, I ensured that I must start from the palace. I am here to consult with party members, who are delegates in our forthcoming delegates’ convention.
“On April 11, I formally declared to vie for the presidency of this country. I have been exposed to many things in government. I commend the president who has been generous to ensure that I participate in every policy decision making of the government. I have exposure to the highest level of government and the capacity to govern the country. I started teaching at the age of 24 and I have served in several capacities and I assure you that I will do the very best I can for the country.”
In his response, the Benin monarch, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II said he had always been an admirer of the Vice President’s eloquence and commended him for his respect for culture and tradition.
Oba Ewuare II, however, took a swipe at the political class, who he accused of always abandoning the electorate after elections.
He said: “Like the businessman will say customers are kings, in the election, the electorate is supposed to be kings but that is not what we have in Nigeria. We have leaders who get to office and enrich themselves and forget the electorate, whereas without the electorate, nobody can occupy any political office, especially elected office. Some of these politicians use all kinds of tactics to get the votes of the electorate and at the end of the day, they abandon the electorate.
“I want to appeal to politicians to make this country great because Nigeria is blessed with great human and natural resources but Nigeria is still in a bad state.”
He also commended the Federal Government under President Buhari for the role it is playing to ensure that stolen artefacts were returned to their original owners.
Osinbajo later had a closed-door meeting with APC leadership and delegates in the state.
I’m in presidential race to salvage Nigeria
Speaking also, yesterday, at the palace of the Asagba of Asaba, Obi (Prof.) Chike Edozien, Osinbajo said he was in the palace to formally inform the monarch of his intention to contest for the highest office in the land.
Osinbajo said that having served as vice president and occasionally as acting president in the past seven years, he took the decision to enter into the contest with all “sense of responsibility.”
The Vice President who was in Asaba to meet statutory delegates of Delta State APC for the presidential primaries, said his position as number two citizen, had exposed him to every part of the country and its peculiar challenges.
He added that he was offering himself genuine service to the nation.
In his remarks, the Asagba of Asaba, asked the Federal Government to establish a federal university in Asaba as a way to pacify the people of Asaba after the massacre of their people during the civil war by federal troops.
The monarch decried the challenges of insecurity, perverse poverty, epileptic power supply, and the poor economy in the country, enjoining Osinbajo to take steps to address the issues if elected.