Femi Otedola Recounts How He and Babaginda Ensured Goodluck Jonathan Took Over Power In 2009.

Entrepreneur, Femi Otedola celebrating ex-president Ibrahim Babaginda ahead of his 80th birthday on Tuesday, August 17 revealed how he and the retired general ensured Goodluck Jonathan took over Yar’Adua’s office in 2010.

In 2009, when the late Yar’Adua traveled abroad for medical treatment without handing over power to Jonathan, his vice-president at the time. His long absence sparked a constitutional crisis and created a power vacuum which resulted in a campaign for Jonathan to take charge of the country.

Otedola revealed that amid the agitation which shook the country between late 2009 and early 2010, Babangida sent a message through him to Jonathan.

Worried by the tension and uncertainty, I decided to do something on my own,” Otedola revealed in his book that is due to hit the market by the end of the year.

“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.”

Otedola said he asked Babangida how the country could get out of the political logjam, emphasising that the political heat at the time was “too much”.

He said a “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,” Otedola wrote, adding, “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 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. 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 was made to sit 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.

About Peter Okiokpa

Electronics Engineer. Digital Entrepreneur. Blogger. Writer. Christlike.😇

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