2 Reasons We Fielded Buhari, Despite Discouragement by Obasanjo, Northerners — Akande
Chief Bisi Akande, a former Osun State Governor and one-time Interim National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, launched his autobiography in Lagos on Thursday, 9 December. It is full of bombshells and political revelations that are bound to generate reactions from the people mentioned.
In the book, entitled, My Participations, Akande reveals that despite warnings and persuasions by many political bigwigs not to touch Muhammadu Buhari with a one-kilometre pole, they still went ahead to field him as the APC candidate for the 2015 presidential election.
Akande, in the book, particularly mentions former President Olusegun Obasanjo but does not reveal the identities of some elite, especially from the North, including royal fathers, who came to Osogbo, to make sure Rauf Aregbesola, the then Governor of Osun, worked on other members to block Buhari’s candidature.
The above notwithstanding, Akande said the party threw its weight behind Buhari for two reasons. One, because of Buhari’s charisma or mystique. Two, given that he had attempted to be President thrice, Buhari had developed an army of followers who could be put to good use in the coming electoral battle.
In Akande’s words: “When the party was ready and we were going around to all the leaders, someone reminded us that we had not seen Obasanjo and (former Head of State, Ibrahim) Babangida, and asked them to join us.
“We also met Obasanjo and asked him to join us. He said he would not join us but that he had his sympathy for us. He said he had decided not to join any political party since he left the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party).
“Behind the scene however, I understood he was pressurising some of our leaders not to use Buhari as our candidate. It got to a point when Bola Tinubu had to confront him thus: ‘It is not fair sending me to Buhari. Buhari was a soldier and he was one of your junior offices in the army. Why don’t you call Buhari and let him know how you feel about his intention to be President?’
“I don’t know whether Obasanjo stopped at it. From the start, he did not want Buhari to be President.”
Akande writes further: “It was apparent from the start that Buhari would be our choice for President. That was one of the bases for the merger. However, there were pressures from the elite, especially from the North, including royal fathers, piling pressure on us not to allow Buhari to be our presidential candidate.
“A prominent aristocratic leader from the North stayed several nights in Osogbo, persuading Governor Aregbesola to prevail on us not to field Buhari. He threatened that if we did, there would be trouble in the North. We reviewed all these threats and decided to go through it with Buhari.”