The Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has revealed that when the northern governors took names of former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, and four others to President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the presidential primary, the President who had initially promised to “anoint” a candidate declined to choose anyone of them.
El-Rufai said the president rather said the five should slug it out at the All Progressives Congress primary.
The Kaduna governor said the governors were ready to accept Buhari’s choice among the five who were; Tinubu, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and Rotimi Amaechi, former Minister of Transportation.
Going by the clamour for presidency to come to South-East, Buhari might have considered anointing Umahi but according to El-Rufai in an interview on Channels TV on Friday, Buhari refrained from anointing anyone of them and asked that they all slugged it out at the primary which held between June 6 and June 8.
Tinubu eventually was declared winner at the primary, while Amechi and Osinbajo were runners-up.
El-Rufai said, “I have had the views for two to three years that a southern should become the next president of Nigeria, I wished the PDP also took that message and ensure that a southerner emerge, we would not be talking about this but they played this political game.
“All 12 of us signed this and we felt it’s in the interest of our party and Nigeria to do so and that’s we did and the president supported us 100 percent. When we met the president, we asked him very clearly ‘Mr President, we are willing to support any candidate that you anoint provided if the candidate is from the South’ and the president told us in that meeting which was followed up by a press statement by Garba Shehu that I have anointed no one.
“What the president told us in that meeting was that ‘Go and meet with the party give me give names; I will look at them and will consider anointing anyone of them’ and we did that and we had five names with the president; he looked at the five names all from the south and he said these names are fine; that any one of these can lead Nigeria; let’s go to primaries. May the best man win and we asked the president; is there anyone of the candidates that you want us to support because 16 APC governors pledged that whoever the president picked out of those five that we will respect the office and do what he wanted but he told us, “I’m anointing no one.”
“Right from the beginning of this process, Governor Yahaya Bello made it clear that he was going to run but we didn’t take that seriously because he’s a second term governor, he’s taking no risk at all; he’s still governor till 2024; so maybe, he’s just gambling; so didn’t take it serious at all,” El-Rufai added.