Ahmadu Ali: Jonathan didn’t want to be Yar’Adua’s running mate
Over the years, different narratives of how ex-President Goodluck Jonathan became running mate to late President Musa Yar’Adua in the 2007 elections, have surfaced.
Ahmadu Ali, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the time, has given his own version of the story in an authorized biography.
Jonathan initially turned down the offer of vice-president because he was more comfortable being governor of Bayelsa state.
Yar’Adua would later die three years into his first term — and Jonathan automatically became president, going on to rule the country for five years in total.
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 led to intense intrigues among PDP governors, Ali revealed, forcing then-President Olusegun Obasanjo to summon Yar’Adau for an emergency meeting.
As soon as Yar’Adua arrived, Obasanjo told him without any preamble: “Now, name your running mate, now, now. We don’t have twenty four hours.”
“Goodluck Jonathan,” he said without hesitation. He had obviously thought about it or tutored to mention the name.
Immediately, they sent for Jonathan.
When 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?’
Jonathan was stunned. He was obviously not expecting this and had not remotely considered the possibility. He opened his mouth as if to say something but nothing came out.
The president seeing his discomfiture added helpfully, “This decision was taken after a long process. We just want to know what your opinion is.”
Finally, Jonathan found voice, although he was disconcerted by this development — as if proposing to his sweetheart.
“Well,” Jonathan began tentatively, “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 turned to Jonathan and asked him, “Would you like to be my running mate?”
The biography, titled ‘The many colours of a rainbow: A biography of Senator Amadu Adah Ali’ by Gideon Tseja, a professor, will be launched in Abuja on Thursday to mark Ali’s 82nd birthday.