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 Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at the time, has given his version of the story in an authorised biography.
According to the book, Jonathan initially turned down the offer of vice-president because he was more comfortable being governor of Bayelsa State.
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.
According to Ali, the vacuum led to intense intrigues among PDP governors, forcing then President Olusegun Obasanjo to summon Yar’Adau 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.”
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?”
“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 announce the name of his running mate.”
The biography, entitled, ‘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.