There have been different narratives of how ex-President Goodluck Jonathan became running mate to late president Musa Yar’Adua in 2007, but Senator Ahmadu Ali has come up with fresh insights into the intrigues that led to the emergence of Jonathan as vice presidential candidate during PDP’s December 16, 2006 convention.
While giving his version of the story in an authorised biography, Ali, who was the National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at the time, stated that Jonathan initially turned down the offer of vice-president because he was more comfortable being governor of Bayelsa state.
The former party chairman stated that the the trio of himself, President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Tony Anenih decided on Jonathan to checkmate the PDP Governors who were scheming to nominate a different person for Yar’Adua, after they had rejected the choice of the then Rivers state Governor, Dr Peter Odili.
The book entitled, “The many colours of a rainbow: A biography of Senator Amadu Adah Ali” and written by Gideon S. Tseja, read that there had been a planned 24-hour delay in naming Yar’Adau’s running mate after the nomination convention. The name Peter Odili, then governor of Rivers State, had been tabled before Yar’Adua but the then Katsina governor was not well disposed to it.
The vacuum, according to Ali, led to intense intrigues among PDP governors, forcing then President Olusegun Obasanjo to summon Yar’Adua for an emergency meeting. He said as soon as Yar’Adua arrived, Obasanjo told him without any preamble: “Now, name your running mate, now, now. We don’t have 24 hours.”
Ali said Obasanjo immediately sent for Jonathan, adding that when he (Jonathan) arrived a little later, the President said “we have summoned you here to offer to you the position of Vice President. What do you think?’’
He said Jonathan was stunned, since he was obviously not expecting this and had not remotely considered the possibility. He said Jonathan opened his mouth as if to say something but that nothing came out of it. He said the president, seeing his discomfiture, added helpfully, “This decision was taken after a long process. We just want to know what your opinion is.”
When Jonathan finally found his voice, he reportedly said, “if I had a choice, I would prefer to remain as governor. I know the job. I know where I stopped. But this VP…I don’t know what it entails.”
After a look of disapproval from the chairman and the president, he added quickly, “but if you want me to serve in that position, I accept.” Yar’Adua then turned to Jonathan and asked him, “Would you like to be my running mate?” “Yes sir,” he replied.
Obasanjo turned to the chairman and said, “Amadu, take him to my parlour. The television crew are on their way for a press conference. You and Chief Anenih should stand on either side of him and let him (Yar’Adua) announce the name of his running mate.”
The biography stated that “amongst all the PDP governors who wanted to contest for president, he (Yar’Adua) was the only one on whom the EFCC could not find any evidence of corruption or misappropriation of funds. He left over N6 billion for his successor in the state coffers while other governors left virtually nothing. He was reluctant to contest for president.”