The Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Tunji Bello, has described the President Muhammadu Buhari’s authorised biographer, Prof. John Paden, as a peddler of falsehood, who was on a mission to distort history and put the entire society at a disadvantage.

Bello, in a write-up on Thursday, described as sad and mischievous the claim by Paden that a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, was strongly opposed to the choice of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate in the 2015 presidential election.

He said it was surprising and painful that the distortion of history was coming not only at an early stage of the APC’s reign but also within the ruling party’s camp, adding that it would have been understandable if the falsehood had emanated from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.Paden, a biographer authorised by Buhari, had on Monday in Abuja publicly presented a book he titled, “Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria.”

In the book, Paden wrote that contrary to popular belief that Tinubu was the one who chose Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate, Tinubu was actually personally interested in the position and was vehemently opposed to the choice of Osinbajo.

Paden wrote that despite much pressure from Tinubu, Buhari, however, settled for Osinbajo out of three names – Tinubu, Osinbajo and Babatunde Fashola – which were forwarded to Buhari.

But Bello, in his write-up titled, “How Tinubu nominated Osinbajo,” lambasted Paden, saying the professor’s book was “basically based on falsehood that reeks of deliberate misinformation and mischief.”

Bello, who said he was part of the process that led to the emergence of Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate at Tinubu’s instance, wondered where Paden got his story from.

He narrated how on a Saturday morning in mid December 2014, shortly after Buhari was picked as the APC standard bearer, Tinubu arranged a meeting in an unnamed guest house in Lagos, with the then National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande; a former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dele Alake; Osinbajo, an unnamed “renowned pastor,” and Bello himself in attendance.

Bello said at the meeting, Tinubu expressed the concern as to the need to pick a Christian as Buhari’s running mate because it had become unwise for the party to present a Muslim-Muslim ticket for the presidential election.

According to Bello, Akande had said Tinubu was the best candidate suited as Buhari’s  running mate, arguing that the Muslim-Muslim ticket had been fielded in Nigeria before in the case of the late MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe.

Tinubu, according to Bello, however, countered that the dynamics of politics had since changed.

He later nominated Osinbajo, who was readily accepted by the gathering based on his credential as a professor of Law, a Christian, a pastor and in view of his antecedent as a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State and his marriage to a granddaughter of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Bello said, “At the meeting, Asiwaju related to us the urgent need to pick a vice-presidential candidate for the APC. He advised that we should immediately discard the idea of his being nominated for the vice-presidential slot as it was no longer possible to pick a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

“This, he reasoned, made sense if indeed we were to be realistic in our bid to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 Presidential election. He reasoned that what was important and imperative at that time was to look for a good Christian nominee to complement President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I remember Baba Akande responded that he would still have preferred that Asiwaju should be the running mate since it had been done before. Baba Akande was obviously referring to the MKO Abiola/ Babagana Kingibe nomination. Asiwaju responded by distinguishing the political equation then from what was before us at that point in time. He foreclosed that scenario as no longer possible. We all voiced our opinions, and at the end of the day, it was resolved that we had to get a Christian candidate.

“It was at this point that Asiwaju reminded us to be fast in coming up with an option because he felt other geographical zones were also jostling for the same position, reiterating the need for the South-West to get it, as a must.

“Asiwaju audaciously told us that left to him, and if he were to pick anyone, he would suggest Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. That Osinbajo, apart from being a brilliant legal luminary, is also a committed progressive and democrat. And having been married to the late Obafemi Awolowo’s granddaughter, it would not be a problem selling him to the old political establishment of the South-West for acceptance.

“He asserted that Alake and myself having served in his cabinet could attest to the great works he did as the Attorney General during his (Asiwaju’) administration as governor of Lagos State. He also reasoned that the second major factor in favour of Osinbajo was the fact that he is a strong Christian and one that he is already a Pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

“In the long run, Osinbajo’s nomination was well received by all of us at that meeting and Prof. Osinbajo was asked to start detailing with us, further strategy sessions to which he brought out his laptop and we all commenced a brainstorming session. The rest of the discussion was to strategise on how to contain other likely opponents from the South-West zone before proceeding to Abuja to battle other regions in the coming nomination.”

Bello described as a matter of concern a situation where a renowned intellectual like Paden “would write a book and begins to redefine events in his own way by abashedly evading facts that are bellowing in the public space in order to re-create a world of make-believe for his audience.”

Copyright PUNCH.       

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