17th April, 2011
Former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has described the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Muhammed Buhari as a blackmailer for lying that the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN struck a deal with President Goodluck Jonathan for cabinet positions.
Buhari was quoted in an interview with Voice of America, VOA, that the ACN had sealed a deal with the PDP to vote for Jonathan in order to get some cabinet positions if Jonathan should win.
Tinubu, who spoke after doing his accreditation at Sunday Adigun, Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday, said the party was planning to resume the alliance talk with the CPC should the presidential election entered a run-off but was amazed about Buhariâ€™s statement to the VOA.
â€œSo, may be, which is a strong may be, the election will throw up a run off and then we can resume the alliance talk. But I got a text from Chief Bisi Akande this morning that â€œGeneral Buhari on Voice of America radio today said that ACN has already sealed a deal with the PDP for some cabinet posts and Speaker of House of Representatives.â€
â€œThat is false; if it is true that Buhari said so, it is blackmail and I donâ€™t expect somebody of his calibre to make such statement. We are going to remain committed to our manifesto.
â€œIf Jonathan will invite the leadership of ACN to even have a discussion on collaboration, he has done well. It means he has shown the desire to win the election. But what has Buhari done? Has he ever willingly contacted the leadership of ACN privately?
â€œUntil we were rallied by some leaders who wanted us to form the alliance, Buhari never took a single proactive step. I donâ€™t believe a man running for the president of Nigeria and not the Emir-ship of Katsina should not have the needed flexibility. To be a good leader, you have to be flexible and accommodating,â€ he stated.
In the botched alliance, Tinubu explained why it failed, saying that â€œin fact, in all honesty, Ribadu was even willing to step down when we consulted him. He was ready to make the huge sacrifice. But the other party remained unbendable.â€
Tinubu added that a merger was first put on the table before CPC was formed but that Buhari rejected the idea, opting rather for an alliance.
â€œAt that time, there was no CPC, what we had was TBO (The Buhari Organisation). Suddenly, CPC was registered. To me, at that state, instead of a merger to form a unified platform, they started talking about alliance.
â€œAlliance in a presidential system has never worked. You need to form a common platform, with a common manifesto, to be able to work together and be able to educate the people the difference between the common platform and the constituting parties.
â€œWhen the merger plan did not work, they dragged us back. Though, I wonâ€™t lay blame but Buhari, as a leader who is highly experienced, and has been a statesman and contested election twice and has complained of rigging and irregularities in court for a long time challenging the process, he should have seen that it is not wise to bring CPC in at the time we were rooting for a merger,â€ he said. According to him, â€œwe still respected him and wanted to continue with the merger plan, but he said he wanted an alliance. So, the merger was suspended. However, if you want alliance, instead of a merger, you must be ready to negotiate and give and take and make sacrifices.
â€œBut it is unfortunate that we are so self-centred and selfish to the extent that it beclouds our patriotic sense. They do not want to give, so they can take. We suspended the alliance talk till after the National Assembly election, the result of which showed that ACN has better strength and better spread than CPC.
â€œSo, we should be the leader in the alliance. But they want to keep the presidential candidate as well as the running mate, in an alliance where we should be the leading pack. Now, the alliance is not strong enough to produce the senate president, neither can it produce the House of Representatives Speaker, so what are we going to get in return?
â€œI am ready to sacrifice my two legs to be amputated but you are not even ready to sacrifice your index finger. They were offering us cabinet positions which you can change your mind tomorrow and sack at will.
â€œBut we were still ready to go along with the plan, in the interest of the nation only for us to discover that while we were negotiating the alliance, they are also speaking with the Save Nigeria Group, to which they have conceded the vice presidential slot,â€ he added.
Tinubu explained that â€œwe accepted him but asked him to surrender the vice presidential slot. If we donâ€™t have that, our own platform, which we have laboured so hard to build, will be in danger. So we proposed a merger which will be implemented after the election.
â€œWe could not afford to jettison our symbol because it is the symbol of economy, especially for the poor. But we were ready for a joint logo that will show the broom on one side and Buhariâ€™s pen on another side as a new logo for the future.
â€œThe negotiation went to that extent. Yet, they refused to commit to that plan. At that point, it became clear that they are only after using us to win election, without having any regard for our platform.â€
ByÂ Kazeem Ugbodaga