Against the recent controversy that trailed the circumstances of his emergence as the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinabjo has insisted that he was nominated for the office.
This new development runs at variance with the submission of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s biographer, Professor John Paden, that Osinbajo was picked unaided by the president himself.
Paden in the book titled “Muhammdu Buhari: Challenges of Leadership”, a compilation of the president’s life and times, launched on October 3, 2016, in Abuja, stated that Osinbajo was not nominated by his political godfather and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who is also the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as widely acknowledged.
He explained that three names which included Tinubu, the then Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and Osinbajo, were forwarded to Buhari for him to pick a running mate shortly after he emerged the party’s candidate at its convention in Lagos but Buhari eventually selected Osinbajo considering the religious configuration of the country.
Paden stated: “With Buhari coming from the North-West geopolitical zone, the Vice-Presidency had been ceded to the South-West geopolitical zone.
“Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and political ‘godfather’ of the South-West geopolitical zone, felt he should be the vice-presidential candidate.
“His protégée and the then popular Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, was also a possible candidate.
“Both Tinubu and Fashola were Muslims, which complicated the national balance.
“A third candidate, Yemi Osinbajo, had been Attorney General of Lagos State and a senior law professor and a pastor.
“When the three names were forwarded to Buhari, he chose Osinbajo despite enormous pressure from Tinubu.”
Tinubu who was one of the reviewers of the book had earlier at the event said that Osinbajo was chosen to balance the religious spread.
He said, “There was the sticky issue of selecting a running mate. After careful study and discussion, it was agreed that we should field a religiously-balanced ticket given the sensitiveness of the moment.
“Based on this conclusion, the name of Yemi Osinbajo, renowned law professor and former Lagos State Attorney General during my tenure as governor, was proposed as an excellent running mate.
“Osinbajo is also a pastor in the largest church in the entire country and this would answer those who wrongfully tried to paint Buhari as intolerant.”
But speaking at the presidential dinner organised in the honour of over 200 graduates and beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programmes at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja Wednesday night, the Vice President said he was recommended for the office.
He however did not disclose who recommended him for the top job.
Osinbajo who encouraged the youth to reciprocate the government gesture by lending a helping hand to others stated that the essence of the amnesty Programme was to give them a better future.
Excited by the successful completion of the educational and vocational pursuits of the ex-agitators from the Niger-Delta region, Vice president Yemi Osinbajo said that their future was now brighter.
He urged them to cease from breaking oil pipelines, stressing that the act had large negative effect on them, their region, the country and even the generations yet unborn.
The beneficiaries were trained as pilots, automobile and electric transformer technicians amongst other skills both in Nigeria and in foreign universities.
He said: “I was in a group of young men and women and one of them asked the question how did I become Vice President I was never a politician or anything like that. So I tried to explain it is quite simple that someone somewhere has to recommend you.
“Somebody somewhere has to give you a helping hand, whether to be a Vice President or to be an aircraft pilot or to be an engineer, somebody somewhere has to give you an opportunity and I think that all of you that are here today are the beneficiaries of the opportunities that you have somehow received.
“And this is why this event is so important. I think that it is one way we have to remind ourselves that we are bound as individuals to give opportunities to everyone.
“The fact that you did so well was a tremendous opportunity for other people. We all have the responsibility to ensure that the future of the country is one that is secure. That cannot happen under the atmosphere of conflict.
“There is no point blowing up pipelines. If they are blown, who are the losers at the end of the day, all of us. Even the upcoming ones.
“This is more of a programmes for giving the young people an opportunity to succeed. That’s the reason why we are doing the various vocational trainings all over the country.
“The future is here and your time has come. Just looking at you guys, I just know that the future is bright. I see you becoming the great people that God has made.
“Someone somewhere has to give a helping hand, an opportunity. This is one way we must remind ourselves that as human beings, we must provide opportunity for one another. Your story is a story of success.”
Making his welcome remarks earlier, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and Coordinator Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd) stated that young men and women had excelled in various life endeavor.
He said that government of President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to Securing the Niger Delta region and to giving the youths in the area an opportunity to excel.
“The President is fully committed to the development of Amnesty Programme in the Niger-Delta region.
“The programme has provided a platform for engagements.
“Nigeria is celebrated and rated as one of the big countries today because of the achievements of the illustrious graduates.
He stated that the some of the beneficiaries who majored in automobile were able to build a 30 feet coaster bus which was received by Osinbajo earlier, even as he called on some other agitators to join the programme.
“They manufactured 30 feet luxurious bus at Innoson Motors from start to finish.
“Some legislators are lawmakers in their various state assemblies while one of them was recently crowned a monarch in Ondo State.
“I wish to call on other agitators to join the programme. Violence is never the best way to achieving anything. You must all submit to peace in the Niger Delta area”, he said.
One of the First class graduates, Alexander Obiechna who spoke on behalf of other outstanding graduands thanked the president for the programme.
He also called on the government to sustain the programme to accommodate others ex-agitators.
“We solicit for the sustenance of the programmes”, he said.
Speaking in an Interview with Journalists, the King of Teuo Brass in Bayelsa, His Royal Majesty, Diette Spiff and Chairman of Innoson Motors, Mr. Chukwu Innoson expressed their gratitudes to God and President Buhari.
For Spiff, “We are accepting the opportunity with open hearts. These young men and women are blazing the trail.”
Out of the 260 outstanding graduands, 45 graduated with a first class while 171 graduated with Second-Class upper Division.