Billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, has recalled the advice the former Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida gave former President Goodluck Jonathan while the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was sick in 2010.
Gatekeepers News reports that Otedola has recalled that during the prolonged sickness of the late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010, Babangida told him to tell Jonathan who was the Vice President then to sit on the empty seat of the president at their next Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Otedola revealed this in his forthcoming book on business lessons, scheduled for release in November.
With Yar’Adua failing to transfer power to his deputy, Jonathan, formally, when he has flown abroad for medical treatment then, Otedola noted that there was tension across the nation as a result of the power vacuum, which led to several public protests.
The Billionaire who joined millions of other people worldwide to felicitate with the former military President, who would turn 80 on Tuesday, August 17, wished him more rewarding years and appreciated him for all that he represented and still represents.
In one of the book chapters, Otedola wrote on the need for entrepreneurs to engage with political authorities, adding that such a relationship would benefit the country.
He wrote, “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. 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 stated that he then 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.
Otedola added: “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
“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 later died on May 5, 2010, and Jonathan was sworn in to complete his predecessor’s term. Afterwards, Jonathan served one full term in office after winning the 2011 presidential elections.