Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola has revealed what former Military President, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) asked him to tell ex-President Goodluck Jonathan when his former boss, Umaru Yar’Ardua was sick.
In a birthday message to Babangida who turned 80 on Tuesday, August 17, Otedola said IBB asked him to tell Jonathan to take over the empty seat of ailing Yar’Adua in the next Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in 2010.
Otedola, who wished Babangida more rewarding years as he marks his Birthday tomorrow, revealed how the political ingenuity and counsel of IBB helped to resolve the political logjam caused by the prolonged sickness of late Yar’Adua.
“With Yar’Adua failing to formally transfer power to his VP when he was flown abroad for medical treatment, there was tension across the nation as a result of the power vacuum, which led to public protests.’’
“Entrepreneurs’ outreach and dialogue with political leaders, among many positives, will ensure stability and social coherence, guaranteeing economic progress.
“Worried by the tension and uncertainty, I decided to do something on my own,” he wrote in his forthcoming book on business lessons.
Otedola said “In the first week of February 2010, I went to Minna, Niger State, along with Hajia Bola Shagaya, to commiserate with General Ibrahim Babangida over the death of his wife, Maryam.
“At his Hilltop residence, we spoke on a wide range of issues, but I told him I needed to discuss an urgent and vital issue. He took me to his study, where the two of us were alone. I told him that the state of the nation had been agitating my mind,” he added.
Otedola said he asked Babangida: “Your Excellency, how can we get out of this logjam? The political heat is too much.
“Calm and resolute, IBB replied: ‘Femi, advise your friend that when he gets to the Council Chambers next week for the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, he should go and sit on the President’s chair.
“I found that fascinating and assured him I would pass the message across. I travelled back to Abuja by road in the evening and went straight to have dinner with Dr Jonathan. I did not waste time in delivering General Babangida’s message to him,” he wrote.
“He (Jonathan) nodded and asked me, ‘What do you think?’
“I laughed and said, ‘Be a man, Your Excellency. Go and sit on that chair!’
“He looked at me for some time and responded that he would think about it.
“A week later, on Tuesday, February 9, the National Assembly adopted the famous ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ to make Dr Jonathan the Acting President pending the return of President Yar’Adua from his medical leave,” Otedola added.
“Behind-the-scene moves by prominent Nigerians preceded this decision. The legislative resolution was unprecedented, but the nation had been tensed up. The fault lines were so stoked that an unusual solution was needed to address the unique situation.
“With Jonathan now legally empowered to act as President, there remained the critical optics: would he stand-in for the President confidently and authoritatively? Or would he try to maintain a subdued outlook? The following day was the FEC meeting.
“As Dr Jonathan entered the Council Chamber, he sat on the chair of the Vice President—his usual seat. As the protocol officer pulled out the VP’s chair, Dr Jonathan marched towards the seat reserved for the President. And he sat on it!
“That was the moment Dr Goodluck Jonathan took control of power. By that act, he sent a strong signal to all Nigerians that he was now in charge. The same day, Jonathan even reshuffled the cabinet.
‘’Yar’Adua died on May 5, 2010, and Jonathan was sworn in as his replacement, going on to win the 2011 presidential elections and serving one term in office.’’
KanyiDaily recalls that former president, Olusegun Obasanjo had slammed those criticizing him for naming Yar’Adua to be his successors, despite knowing his medical history.