Dele Momodu, publisher of Ovation International, asked Nasir el-Rufai to be his running mate in the 2011 presidential election — but the former minister of federal capital territory declined.
This is contained in the book, ‘Fighting Lions: The Untold Story of the Dele Momodu Presidential Campaign’, written by Ohimai Godwin Amaize, who holds the record of the youngest presidential campaign manager in Nigeria at the age of 26.
After winning the ticket of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Momodu had to wade through a list of “probables and possibles” in picking his vice-presidential candidate.
He approached a number of people — namely Nuhu Ribadu, Awwal Tukur, Uba Salim Malami, Risqua Murtala Muhammed and el-Rufai — before settling for Yunusa Tanko, who was chairman of the NCP at the time.
Amaize narrated the experience with el-Rufai, who is the current governor of Kaduna state, thus: “Long before the party primaries, Momodu had considered former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as his running mate. He was Momodu’s first choice. The idea of El-Rufai as his running mate was in the same spirit as Barack Obama’s choice of an older and more experienced Senator Joe Biden. The former minister’s wealth of knowledge in politics and public service would play a brilliant role in balancing the ticket, Momodu believed.
“However, it seemed El-Rufai’s disposition to the whole idea was hinged on the assumption that he had a bigger profile, considering he was a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. We didn’t see any merit in that. For us, this was about Nigeria first. It was beyond the issue of who felt they had a bigger profile. If a man like Fola Adeola had put the strength of his remarkable private sector profile into consideration, there would never had been a Ribadu/Adeola ticket with Fola Adeola as the running mate.
“If by virtue of age and experience Biden had considered himself bigger than Obama, the result would have been different. It is the same with the Donald Trump/Mike Pence alliance which saw a complete outsider without any prior government experience becoming the President of the United States. Such was the nature of ‘small politics’ that frustrated the possibility of a Momodu/El-Rufai ticket.”
THE RIBADU SNUB
After Ribadu had been nominated as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) — which is now part of today’s All Progressives Congress (APC) — he paid a visit to Momodu and this offered an opportunity for both of them to “synergise”.
Amaize wrote: “As news and pictures from Ribadu’s visit to Momodu hit the media, public curiosity was aroused about why Ribadu visited Momodu barely 24 hours after securing his presidential ticket. Followers of both candidates wanted to know if they had agreed to run on the same ticket. It is interesting to note here that before Ribadu’s visit, a good number of our critics on social media were Team Ribadu’s supporters. After Ribadu’s visit, our campaign experienced a great moment of relief from the Team Ribadu attacks.
“Indeed, Ribadu’s visit to Momodu appeared a healthy development. I still believe a Momodu/Ribadu ticket would have been the opposition’s best ticket in the 2011 presidential election. In several ways, Momodu complemented Ribadu, and vice-versa. Born in 1960, both candidates had just clocked their 50th birthday. It was what I liked to describe as the 50/50 alliance.
“As a matter of fact, at the point Ribadu visited Momodu, our candidate was well disposed to working with the ACN flag-bearer under conditions he felt should be jointly agreed by both parties. For Momodu, working with Ribadu was not a decision he alone could just take. It was on this understanding that Ribadu left us that day. The two had related very well with each other. They even had lunch together. We were happy to host members of Team Ribadu that accompanied their arrowhead on the visit.
“Personally, I was happy, for two reasons.
“First, here was Nigeria’s strongest chance at presenting two of its very best in a race to outrun the party in power. Second, both candidates were very close mentors and seeing them work together was a great moment of personal fulfillment.
“Sadly, it was not to be. That visit was the last we heard of Ribadu. Momodu made attempts to reach out to Ribadu but the ACN presidential candidate never returned the calls, text messages and Blackberry Messenger messages.”
The book is due for public presentation on Wednesday, July 11, in Lagos.