Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s running mate, Senator Ben Obi, has explained why Atiku picked him as his running mate rather than former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, in the 2007 presidential race.
The video was uploaded to YouTube by AIT News and features Ben Obi, who claims that Atiku turned down Bola Tinubu’s offer to be his running mate when he won the presidential ticket of the Action Congress after leaving the PDP. The Atiku campaign, he added, decided against running alongside Tinubu because of the latter’s proximity to the region where then-President Olusegun Obasanjo was popular. Another reason, he stated, that Atiku didn’t choose Tinubu was because they shared a religious background.
Ben Obi continued, saying that when he was getting ready to run for a second term in the Senate, Iyorchia Ayu called him to tell him that Atiku had chosen him as his running mate. According to him, Atiku called him immediately afterward to corroborate what Iyorchia Ayu had claimed.
In Obi’s exact words: “…So that was how the Action Congress was formed and Atiku ended up as the candidate. At that time Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was very interested in running as his vice, Audu Ogbeh, Iyorchia Ayu and a good number of leaders in the Action Congress said ‘no, we just finished an Obasanjo era, how can you now bring again Bola Tinubu from the southwest. And besides a Muslim-Muslim ticket, no.
“Iyorchia Ayu phoned me after their encounter. By that time, I had finished sending out information on my bid for reelection to the Senate. We just got out of a meeting, Senator, and the candidate has asked me to run with him, Ayu stated over the phone. When I visited with Ayu, Igwe Peter Anugwu was also present. And the candidate contacted me, and I informed him that Ohanaeze had convened, and decided that nobody from the southeast should accept running mate; at which point Peter Anugwu seized the phone from me, and informed the candidate that Ohanaeze would call an emergency, and sort it out. The Ohanaeze council met the next day and unanimously agreed that I should run; in 2007, I did so with Atiku’s support “.