A former Interim Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, has said that ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar rejected the party’s National Leader, Bola Tinubu, as his running mate in the 2007 presidential election.
By 2007, Atiku had fallen out with former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his plan to succeed his principal along with his opposition to Obasanjo’s third term agenda.
The disagreement later forced Atiku to defect to the Action Congress (AC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Tinubu and some others had been instrumental to the formation of the AC.
Atiku lost the Presidential election to the PDP’s Umaru Musa Yar’Adua after coming third while Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) came second.
In his autobiography, My Participations, Akande, who was the National Chairman of the AC, said though the party settled for Ben Obi as Atiku’s running mate, it could have been Tinubu.
“In 2007, we formed a party, the AC, with Abubakar Atiku. We agreed that Atiku should be our presidential candidate and we had the understanding that he would run with Bola Tinubu. I was the chairman of the AC. One day, after we had nominated Atiku as our presidential candidate, one young man came and gave me a form from INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission). I told him I could not sign a blank form and that I, as the Chairman, must know the name that would be filled in it.
“The young man, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, must have been the organising right-hand man of Atiku. He was an active person from Kano. The following morning, he came again with Lawan Kaita. Kaita begged me and said it was Ben Obi whom Atiku had chosen as his running mate behind our back. So, I signed the form because I believed as the candidate, Atiku had the right to choose his running mate. If I refused to sign, that would create a crisis.
“We believed that Atiku should have chosen his running mate from the AD (Alliance for Democracy) even if he was no longer favourably disposed to Tinubu. With Atiku, the party would be strong in the North, but because of the preponderance of PDP in the South-East and the South-South, it would face more resistance in that area. Obasanjo was stepping down from the Presidency. Therefore, the Yoruba, even the few that benefitted from his arrogant rule, would no longer be obliged to vote for the PDP.
“Segun Osoba, Niyi Adebayo and Lam Adesina had earlier met Atiku and we proposed to him our choice of Tinubu, and he promised to come back to us. He gave us a date. On that date, we all assembled. Atiku came with Audu Ogbe, Tom Ikimi and Usman Bugaje.
“We proposed that Tinubu should be the running mate, though Tinubu was not at the meeting. Atiku would not give us an immediate answer. He said he wanted to have more consultations.
“Ikimi, Ogbe and others were all very strong against Tinubu, because they said it would mean a Muslim-Muslim ticket. We deadlocked over that. Atiku never said anything. We left the meeting. What prompted us was that anytime we said we needed money, Atiku would say ‘Bola, please help us’. Bola was the only one spending the money among us. The rest of us were poor. Tinubu also put all his energy and resources into the formation of the AC and we felt he deserved a spot on the ticket. We discussed with Bola on this and he said we should discuss with Atiku. It was after we were deadlocked that they brought me the blank form. So, Atiku ran with Obi and failed. Only Lagos State from South West voted for Atiku in all the states of Nigeria.”