Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said news of his nomination as running mate to then-candidate Muhammadu Buhari in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election came to him as a surprise.
He said he was working on a case of a defection of a federal lawmaker at the Supreme Court when he learned of his nomination.
Mr Osinbajo narrated the story of his emergence on Wednesday when he hosted members of the State House Press Corps to a breaking of fast (Iftar) at his Aguda Residence at the President Villa, Abuja.
“I was working on the case at Peniel Apartments in Abuja on December 18, 2014, when at about 1 a.m. in the morning, I received a call from Rauf Aregbesola that they were coming to Lagos to pick me.
“I said I was in Abuja. He said ‘good because you have been nominated as the vice-presidential candidate’ and I said is that how you nominate people,” Mr Osinbajo said.
The vice president added that after his case that day, he returned to his accommodation. He said immediately after he removed his wig, he felt that “this is probably the last time I will be wearing it.”
He said Mr Aregbesola, who is the current interior minister, and former Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, later in the day took him to the presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Osinbajo said he was telling his story to the journalists to let them know that an individual’s life can change at any minute.
He said he has always believed in and worked for a better Nigeria all his life and his decision to run for the office of president in the 2023 election is to enable him to make a difference. He said very few people have the kind of training and experience that he has.
He said he has, prior to and after he declared to run for president, met with various groups including governors, delegates and party leaders. He, however, said the Iftar with the journalists is the first one he is holding with a group that will not vote at the party primaries.
Mr Osinbajo drew laughter from his audience when he said: “I am probably meeting you for your financial contribution.”
“I don’t know why you think it’s a joke,” he said, drawing more laughter from the press corps member.
The vice president subsequently sought the support of the journalists.
Speaking earlier, the interim chairman of the State House Press Corps, Ismaila Chafe, said many members of the corps have been reporting from the Presidential Villa for over a decade.
“We have seen presidents and vice presidents come and go. But with profound humility, we can say that you have made a difference in the way you have related with the State House Press Corps,” Mr Chaffe said.
“We can recall that not long after you assumed office, you gathered us here in this same hall for a very engaging interaction. The memory of that meeting still lingers in us. And since then, you have maintained a close relationship with the corps.”
Mr Chaffe said the press corps ‘are very’ with the vision of the vice president, especially his ‘supportive roles to ensure that this administration leaves a lasting legacy.’
“As a corps, we will continue to play our role in the most dispassionate way,” he said.
Mr Osinbajo, a professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, is one of over 10 people seeking to be the presidential candidate of the ruling party, APC.
One of his main challengers is Bola Tinubu, the former Lagos governor under whose administration Mr Osinbajo served as commissioner for justice for eight years.
Mr Tinubu, an influential leader of the APC, is believed to have played a major role in Mr Osinbajo’s emergence as Mr Buhari’s running mate.
Apart from Mr Osinbajo, who is now challenging Mr Tinubu for the APC ticket, many other former close allies of Mr TInubu have also fallen out with him. One of them is Mr Aregbesola, who served as works commissioner under TInubu and was considered one of his closest allies.
Mr Amosun, who took Mr Osinbajo to Mr Buhari, is also seeking the APC presidential ticket.
Other APC presidential aspirants include transportation minister Rotimi Amaechi, Labour minister Chris Ngige and Ekiti governor Kayode Fayemi.
The APC presidential candidate is expected to emerge at the end of May. President Buhari is ineligible to contest as he is rounding off his constitutionally permitted second term in office.