A leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, has said that he turned down an invitation to be the party’s vice presidential candidate in order to maintain his position as the leader of the party.
In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Tinubu said that as a leader, he would be able to act as a bridge builder across all divides as well as further the party’s interests and campaign ahead of next year’s elections.
“I helped to build this party, giving no thought to seeking an elected office because of it,” said Mr. Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State.
“My contribution to the party was never based on the expectation of a later political handout. Nigeria is in trouble and we are well past the moment for such narrow, selfish games.
“There came a time during the course of the events when our Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari offered the Vice Presidential slot to me. Being a normal human being, I was deeply moved and honoured that he would consider me for the position. Being a patriot, I had to weigh my potential candidacy in all of its dimensions.”
After days of politicking and negotiations, the APC finally announced Yemi Osinbajo as Mr. Buhari’s running mate on Wednesday, just hours before INEC’s deadline on parties’ submission of list of candidates.
Mr. Osinbajo, 55, a professor of law and pastor at The Redeemed Christian Church of God, is a loyalist to Mr. Tinubu.
On Tuesday, Mr. Tinubu had accused President Goodluck Jonathan of scheming to block his bid for the APC’s running mate position.
The “smear campaign” by the president and the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, had been in the works for years, according to Mr. Tinubu, upon a realization that he commands a “powerful political followership.”
The choice of Mr. Tinubu as a potential running mate to Mr. Buhari was unacceptable to some of the APC members who were opposed to the party fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Mr. Tinubu accused the PDP of stoking the fear of a Muslim-Muslim ticket within the APC.
“When my name was raised, the political hatchet men tried to chop it down with rumor and lies,” he said.
“Over the years, I have developed a thick skin. The personal attacks did not bother me. I am used to them. While I have a thick skin, I don’t have a thick mind. There has been one form of attack that has troubled me. That is the attack based on religion.
“I have removed myself from consideration so what I now say cannot be seen as self-serving. I plead with the people of this nation to never allow the power lust of cynical politicians to set brother against brother, neighbour against neighbour. If you look at those politicians who raise this issue the most, they are the least devout and faithful to any religion other their self-interests.”
Mr. Tinubu also said that the nation has too many problems – insecurity, economic collapse, poverty, corruption and mis-governance – to allow inept people use religion as a tool to continue the years of misrule.
“Those who exploit religion should be wary. For there really is a God and he does not like it when you play with his people or use His name to do the opposite of what He intends,” he said.
“I ask the people to remove religion from the electoral equation now that the tickets of both parties are mixed. I ask you to select the ticket best able to end the downward slide that Nigeria has endured since this government took over. I ask you to remember that too many
Christians and Muslims are poor.
“Most of all, I ask you to remember that the true religion of the PDP is poverty, APC came to bring prosperity to the people. Please vote for that.”
Mr. Tinubu described members of the PDP as “jackals in sheep’s clothing” who are ready to toss the nation’s future asunder in order to continue reaping the rewards of their “selfish” ways.
“The Nigeria I see is a nation that shall overcome. The Nigeria I see is a nation ready to sweep aside the broken ways of our recent past and the government and politicians who impose distress upon us,” he said.
“The Nigeria I see and seek is one where each person, every man, woman and child may live free of terrorism, free of the despair of poverty and free of the fear that the government meant to serve and protect them has turned its back to them in cold and utter indifference.
“I see and seek a Nigeria where progressive democratic governance creates the political and economic space needed for each of us to contribute to rescuing and retooling this nation. And, in the process of this benign endeavour, may each and every one of us share in the sound promise and good prosperity that shall describe the architecture of our national revival.
The former governor further said that he would never place political ambition over patriotic conviction, adding that there is no room for emotion to becloud sense of judgement.
“This is a time for cohesion and an overriding sense of mission. We must defeat the foe before us and resist all temptations intended to entice us to fight among ourselves,” Mr. Tinubu said.
“I sincerely commit myself to the rescue agenda of General Buhari and Professor Osinbajo.
“I declare to you, I will work and dedicate myself so that our ticket succeeds and wins the 2015 election – not for his good, not for my good, not even for the party’s good but for the good of the nation we inhabit.
“Some may call what I have done a sacrifice. I call it otherwise. It is my patriotic contribution and duty. I do so with a happy and uplifted heart and clear conscience because I have committed myself to seeking the best for this nation before seeking what is good for myself.”